Consequences and Child Discipline
The challenge of parenthood is not in seeing the pregnancy through and ensuring a safe delivery for the baby. It’s what will happen afterward – raising the child and seeing him grow into an emotionally healthy and responsible adult, one who is self-disciplined and considerate of other people’s feelings. It may involve a lot of struggles, challenges and some hair-pulling. At times, you may even need to seek family counseling in Utah to help you gain more techniques on how to discipline your child.
Establishing a System of Discipline
One important element you need to establish as a parent is a system of discipline that includes:
– Setting rules on behavior and responsibility
– Providing for rewards for positive acts
– Imposing consequences for negative behavior
Providing consequences for a child’s actions teaches the child to be responsible for his choices and behavior, to prepare them to face the world on their own, as adults. Consequences may involve logical consequences (the logical result of his actions) or loss of privileges.
Here are some things to remember when creating and enforcing an “action and consequence” system for your child:
– Provide structure. Write down the rules and corresponding consequences. This way, you don’t easily fall into the trap of providing consequences based on your emotions. Make a list of offenses and consequences so that the child knows what to expect.
– The consequences are best related to the actions. For instance, if the child gets a low grade due to failure to turn in assignments, it may work better to restrict TV or internet access, rather than ordering him to clean the garage. The first is related and is even a natural consequence of the offense. Or, if the child throws a tantrum and flings his toys about, the consequence is for him to be required to clean up the mess he made. Sending your child to his room may not be as effective when he can simply watch TV or play with video games there.
– Have a reasonable set of consequences. If it does not pose a risk to the child’s safety, allow him to experience the natural consequence of his actions. For instance, if he does not take care of his toy and it gets broken, it means that he can’t enjoy that toy anymore. According to Utah counselors, don’t set out consequences you know are impossible or unreasonable. “You are banned from the phone forever.” is not a reasonable consequence and does not give the child the motivation and opportunity to redeem himself and do better. It should be restricted to a certain period. Also, unreasonable consequences will only breed anger and resentment in your child.
– Consequences should still be respectful of the child. Arguments still abound with regards to a dad who used his child’s Facebook account to show a video of him decrying his child’s action and shooting his child’s laptop. Publicly humiliating your child is a no-win solution.
– The consequence should be given close after the offense. If your child misbehaves, the consequence should be right after the act. Giving a consequence 3 months after the fact is not effective.
– Give consequences for good behavior, not just for bad. This will show your child that you don’t only notice bad behavior; rather, good behavior is also rewarded. This will give him something to reach for.
– The consequence should be age appropriate. Expecting your teen to ponder and change bad behavior after you have made him “face the wall” is largely ineffective. However, a teen will especially “feel” the consequence if it means restricted access to the Internet or the loss of privilege to go out with friends.
– Show consistency.Don’t selectively impose the rules. Your child should be able to know what to expect. Usually, your child will show some resistance when you introduce a new set of rules. However, when you show that you will impose it every time, it will send a message that you mean business. If you have difficulty applying the rules consistently, get the help of the people around you – teachers, other family members or your Provo counselor.
– Seek help. If your child has problems following the rules and may exhibit behavior that is dangerous to himself and to others, it may be time to go for family counseling in Provo. This is particularly important when there are signs of alcohol or substance abuse. A Utah substance abuse counselor can provide the guidance to help your child recover from substance abuse issues.