Consequences That Actually Work! (Part 1 – Natural Consequences)

Consequences that Actually Work 1,2,3
Over the next several weeks we’ll be sharing three types of consequences that make sense, are easy to implement, and most importantly will really help your children learn the value of making a better decision next time!

Natural impacts (aka Natural consequences)

Many impacts, or consequences, for misbehaviors like disrespect or irresponsibility occur naturally, without the intervention of an adult. We call these “natural impacts.”

For example, if a child has a messy room, she may not be able to find her shoes in the morning before school. If a child hits his brother, he may feel “icky” inside. If a child tells a lie, people won’t be as likely to trust him. By helping my children to understand and experience these natural impacts, I help them learn about the true causes and effects that will follow them into life beyond the walls of our home.

The Worst Punishment You Can Give…

The worst punishment a parent can give is the impulsive, emotional and irrational consequence that the child eventually weasels out of because both parent and child know it’s unreasonable.

Dishing out a quick consequence may help you feel big and powerful at the moment, but it teaches your kids that your word can’t be trusted, therefore you can’t be trusted. A recent coaching client testified to this when she said,  “I never thought about the impact of my empty threats on the trust level in my relationship with my child.”

So if you want your kids to trust you, it will help to be more thoughtful about consequences. Try this process:

Solving a Child’s Big Spiritual Problem

As parents who care for our children’s spiritual well-being, we try to teach them right and wrong and help them tackle whatever spiritual problems they encounter.

However, other than the fact that they’re born into sin, it may well be that a child’s biggest spiritual problem is that the grace they hear about in the gospel story is not what they experience in their closest relationships. The same parents who send them to Sunday School fight in the car on the way home from church and don’t resolve well. Or they yell at their kids impatiently. Or they complain openly about other people. Or they insist on being right. Or they discipline angrily and without grace. The list goes on.

We may think our kids won’t notice these behavioral contradictions, but increasingly they do notice and feel embittered (Col. 3:21) or exasperated (Eph. 6:4).

Parenting Goals You Can Meet

Three Goals for Parenting

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s or child’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?   Mt 7:3 (italic portion inserted by CF)

When parents tell Lynne or me about their discipline struggles with their kids we often ask them, “What is your primary goal?” They almost always tell us that their goal is to get their child to either stop doing a wrong behavior, or to do the right behavior. Their fingers point at their kids. It turns out that this is often the problem when parents discipline their children.