The most difficult thing about being a parent is having to say “No” or sit back and watch as our little darlings/terrors experience the consequences of their actions or inactions.
Experiencing for themselves both the negative consequences and positive rewards that result from their behaviour, is the only way “adults in training” (our children) can truly learn the life skills required for accepting responsibility and taking control of their own lives.
Because our instinct is to try and protect them from any of life’s hurts or inevitable unpleasantness, many have difficulty coming up with ideas for constructive consequences and meaningful rewards. Many more shy away from seeing things through when it comes to meeting these consequences. Our instinctive reaction is to try and “help” them suffer the consequence or wipe it away for them by letting them “Get away with it just this once!”.
The point we seem to be missing when we do this however, is that by not giving our children the gift of having to face and experience the consequences of what they do, we are robbing them of the opportunity to learn how to make logical judgements about what is an acceptable risk for them in life and thus learn just how much control they truly have over the outcome of their life.
Potential Consequences (Age 10-13)
- Loss of TV Privileges (Don’t be arbitrary. Keep it specific time limit and schedule. For example: No TV for 2 days)
- Loss of Video Games (Again, keep it specific)
- Loss of Computer Time (Ditto above)
- Loss of DS/PSP/XBox Controls/iPod or Mobile Telephone
- Going to Bed Early (Specify a time)
- Doing Additional Chores (Specific to the behaviour. For example: emptying the bins if they leave rubbish lying around).
- Loss of Points (Which Accumulate Towards Daily/Weekly Bonus Rewards)
Potential Rewards (Age 10-13)
- Extra TV, Video, Computer Game Time
- Time off From Regular Chores
- Staying Up Late
- Daily/Weekly Bonus Rewards
- Someone Else Does Their Chores for Them
- Points (Which Accumulate Towards Daily/Weekly Bonus Rewards)
Ideas for Daily/Weekly Bonus Rewards
- Playing a Game of their Choice
- A Special Treat Activity (i.e., Cinema, Ice Skating, etc.)
- A Special Gift (Extra Minutes on Mobile Telephone)
- Activity with Parent or Friend (i.e., Swimming, Bowling, Climbing, Fishing, Hitting the Beach)
- Choice of Take Out Meal
The desired behaviour you’re trying to encourage in your child is important to you but, at the moment, it is UNimportant to them. Wherever possible, keep consequences relevant to the “crime” and ensure it makes the correct behaviour important to them.
If you’d like to learn more about how to set kids age appropriate consequences and see them through, I’m writing a book that teaches exactly that, along with many practical ways parents can teach their kids the essential, everyday life skills they’ll need to grow into responsible adults. Sign up below to hear more about the book and get a discount when it’s released.