Daily Parenting Tip–Consequences

Proper consequences are a great teacher for all of us.  The definition of consequences is “a logical result.”  The definition of punishment is “to cause pain for a crime.”  Good parents use consequences not punishment. Yes, consequences bring pain, but when used correctly, the child learns the logical result of what they did and the responsibility is upon his or her shoulders instead of the parents’. 

When considering consequences it is vital at any age that you discover the “coin of the realm” for your children when consequences are needed.  What is most valuable to them at their given age?  Is it playing with a particular toy, watching a certain TV program, riding bikes, playing with friends, talking on the phone, playing computer games?  These are the coins that he or she will have to pay with when needing a motivating consequence.  Consequences that are not valuable to the child do not work. For elementary age children and up, we have found that going to bed early is a great consequence. Staying up is very valuable to them.  It is easy to say, “Well, for that, you will have to go to bed early tonight.”  You can add half hours as needed if you get too much protesting. Going to bed thirty minutes early can be an all around, easy to administer consequence.

Make certain that the instructions about behavior and consequences are clear:  “If you ______________, this will happen.”  Then make certain that you follow through with consistency.  I know adults that go to work late day after day, goof off instead of working, get threatened and then don’t change—because the threatened consequences never happen.  One can be sure that this is the story of their lives and not paying consequences creates a very dysfunctional adult.  A child who consistently hears, “If _________ happens, then ___________,” will not only be more likely to behave but will at the same time learn cause and effect—a very useful skill for life. 

Consequences are most effective when they fit the “misdeed.” Save drastic consequences for huge problems like running out into the street, lying, defiance or stealing.  If “every-day” consequences are too harsh, the child may be “provoked to wrath.” In Ephesians 6:4, we read, “Fathers, do not provoke (exasperate) your children to wrath.” The idea here is that something the parent is doing causes the child to be angry with the parent and not feel loved. The child is not truly obedient with a decent attitude, but rather stubborn inside (or outside). This can set up strongholds of anger and stubbornness in the heart that will bloom into huge problems later in life. The use of proper consequences done in love produces “the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”  (Hebrews 12:11)

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About Barbara Moon

I am an ordinary person who walks with an extraordinary God. I love to share what He has done in my life. I love to help parents with their kid questions. I love to teach little ones to swim. I love to study and learn new things and for the last ten years I have been focusing on how the brain works in connection with joyful relationships, how that affects development, maturity and trauma recovery. When not writing, my days are full of family, (especially grandchildren), mentoring, counseling, sewing, and reading.
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2 Responses to Daily Parenting Tip–Consequences

  1. Thank you so much for this post, Barb. I came to your blog from your son, Jim, who was pastor to me at Fellowship when I was in my late teens. Congratulations on raising a man who is so effective at communicating Jesus to others and who clearly models Christ in the everyday.

    That being said, I go to a church now where a lot of the families tend to rely a lot on the Pearls method of discipline. Not to sound boastful or giving undue credits to the gifts that God may or may not have given me, but I feel that God has given me a gift of discernment. Something just does not sit right with me when it comes to the practice of “whipping your children into perfect obedience.” Perhaps it is that I came from a childhood where I was not introduced to God until my teens or maybe it’s that my mom was not a God-fearing woman and I was raised with very mixed views of the church that leaves me with such a different view of the Gospel (since I am looking at it from the eyes of a woman who was raped, abused, used drugs….). However, I honestly cannot imagine Jesus ever advocating a violent technique to train a child. In point of fact, Jesus wouldn’t allow corporal punishment (that was appropriate for the times) to punish an adult sinful woman, I cannot imagine Him every saying, “You must whip your child into submission using whatever force necessary, for whatever length of time necessary to bring about perfect obedience.”

    My husband is just learning that the families in the church tend to subscribe to this method of teaching, and is no longer feeling comfortable there, so we are in the process of making a move.

    I just want to thank you for advocating a method of “natural or logistical consequences” to disobedience rather than a violent method. More people should look at discipline through Jesus’ eyes.

    • Barbara Moon says:

      Lisa, Thank you for your kind words. I think Jim is pretty awesome myself. I am so sorry you were reared with violence. I work with a lot of women who had that in various forms. I dont know about the method you are talking about but it doesnt sound good to me. It might upset you to know that I do believe in spanking, but in a certain way that is loving and not abusive. I have a chapter on it in my parenting book. It is one form of discipline among many. I used it with my children and my grandchildren have been spanked (when needed) using this method. It does not have to be used often, but when needed it is not like what most people think of as spanking. Just to let you know that. You wont hear me talk about it often because I believe there are other ways, as you noted.
      It has a lot to do with the discipliner’s heart, motives, and attitudes. It sounds like you are in a place where those things do not line up with Jesus’s. Thanks again.

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