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:
1) Slow down.
Remember you love your child and want what will really be helpful for them.
2) Buy some time.
“I’m going to think (or pray) about what would be the most helpful consequence. I’ll get back to you soon about that.” Decide on a consequence that helps your child get back on track/make restitution for their misbehavior. (For an appendix full of creative, thoughtful and constructive consequences, read Discipline That Connects With Your Child’s Heart.)
3) Follow through calmly and lovingly!
It’s just what your child needs to respect and trust you. If your child truly believes the consequence is for his benefit (not for your need for control or revenge for his behavior), he is much more likely to comply and more importantly – learn from it!