How many times have you said “If only I had the perfect consequence?” If you’re like the rest of us—hundreds. Parents are on a quest for the perfect consequence, the one that really drives home your point so that your child will do exactly what you want him to do.
You can stop looking for it now—it doesn’t exist. There is no magical, one-size-fits-all consequence that will magically make your child do what you want him to do. Stay with me here, because consequences do work, if we allow them to.
Focus on the person you want her to be. You want her to be responsible, independent and a problem solver? She has to have the chance to grow those muscles now, while she’s still home with you. That means she needs time to practice being responsible, independent and a problem solver. There is no better way to teach this skill than to offer choices.
Provide choices and explain their consequences.
“We’re leaving for school in 15 minutes. If you’re not dressed by then you’ll have to go in your pajamas. You choose.”
“I need your help shoveling the snow. If you won’t work with me I will have to pay someone to help me. That money will come from your allowance. You choose.”
Expect, and even hope, that your child makes the ‘wrong’ choice. Then allow the consequence to do the work for you. (Yes, this does mean that your child goes to school in pajamas and pays for the snow shoveling.) If you cajole him into making the ‘right’ choice he will never learn that his decisions have consequences, both good and bad. Why should he ever move more quickly in the morning if you give him extra time to get dressed?
In a perfect world the consequence would be logical and fit well with the behavior, but we don’t live in a perfect world. Spend less time conjuring the perfect consequence and more time allowing your child to experience the gift of those consequences.
©Rhonda Moskowitz, 2014, All Rights Reserved