Making Them Suffer for What They’ve Done… OR teaching?

June 13th, 2012

by Katrina Brooke

When kids misbehave or make mistakes, do we want them to suffer for what they’ve done…or do we simply want them to learn responsibility?
When we slip into the “making-them-suffer” mentality, the odds of success take a dive…along with our relationship with the child.
 
When we remember that “discipline” simply means “teaching,” the odds are much higher that we’ll remain empathetic…even loving…as we allow our children to learn from consequences.
 
A parent recently asked:
 
Our twelve-year-old son started to make a habit of lying to us about what was going on at school. We did our best to be empathetic as we described how he would have to do plenty of extra chores to replace the energy he had drained out of us. He had to pull weeds, clean up a bunch of old, rotted firewood, clean out a nasty dusty lawn shed, and a few other tedious jobs.
 
What worried us was his attitude about it all. He didn’t even get upset. He even seemed to like it.
 
What are we doing wrong?
 
I suggested waiting and paying close attention to whether or not their son’s politician-like behavior continued. Months later, she was excited to say that it did not.
 
Kids don’t need to be upset about consequences
to learn from consequences.
 
Of course, the odds for learning go way up when consequences meet the following guidelines:
  • They are logical.

    The consequence makes sense given the child’s mistake or misbehavior.

  • They are provided with love.

    The consequence is delivered with sincere empathy instead of frustration, anger, or sarcasm.

  • They are enforceable.

    The consequence is something we can actually do, and it doesn’t punish us as we provide it.

  • They are preceded with very few words.

    Before the consequence is provided, there are no repeated warnings, threats, or lectures.

  • When they are over, they are over.

    After providing the consequence, the adult doesn’t rub salt in the wounds by lecturing, moralizing, or trying to make sure that the child has learned a lesson.

Our audio, Love and Logic Magic: When Kids Drain Your Energy, gives plenty of additional ideas for providing effective consequences when it’s tough to think of them.
 
Thanks for reading! Our goal is to help as many families as possible. If this is a benefit, forward it to a friend.
 
Dr. Charles Fay

©2012 Love and Logic Institute, Inc


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