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Always Follow Through on Consequences
posted by Karen Quinn, The Testing Mom - May 13th, 2016
How’s Your Follow Through?
How many times have you threatened disciplinary actions if your child doesn’t listen and obey, only to fail when it’s time to follow through? Whenever it happened to me I’d think, “Wow, I’m a follow-through failure!” Years ago, our two-year-old daughter Schuyler asked for grape soda as we were walking into a restaurant for dinner. I explained it would spoil her appetite, but she wanted grape soda and she wanted it NOW! She threw the mother of all tantrums, treating the world to earsplitting shrieks for grape soda. We told her to stop and if she didn’t, we’d turn around and go home. She screamed even louder, so we turned around and made the 60-block trek home with her howling in her stroller the whole way.
Does this story ring a bell to you? As a parent, I’m sure you’ve endured your share of screaming and it isn’t pleasant! I was so disappointed to miss our dinner plans but I was also proud of our parental solidarity, because that’s the day we became winners in the battle for control with our toddler. I knew I needed to put my foot down or I wouldn’t be able to go out in public with my daughter for fear of her tantrums and embarrassment!
That’s why when we told her what would happen and then followed through, it worked. It’s the old law of cause and effect! She never threw another tantrum like that again. That day, we gave her a gift by teaching her about the consequences of disobeying her parents.
Nip it in the Bud!
To proactively nip this issue in the bud, always follow through on consequences! As parent educator Barbara Coloroso says, “Children need parents who say what they mean, mean what they say, and do what they say they are going to do.” She contends that it isn’t the severity of the consequences that motivates children, it’s the certainty. Also, following through on consequences helps your child learn about cause and effect, an important cognitive concept that must be grasped before he or she can reason.
If your child has witnessed you frequently give in, this is a tough pattern to break and it takes a lot of willpower to change that mindset.
These TIPS Win Out Every Time!
So, here are some ways to make it easier for your child to listen and respond:
- Speak at your child’s level – He/she will listen more closely if you are kneeling by his/her side.
- Make eye contact – If your child’s gaze is wandering, he/she isn’t paying attention.
- Don’t over-explain – When dealing with your child’s behavior, use LESS language, not more.
- Don’t negotiate – However, you can list the benefits of listening and obeying: “After you pick up your toys, you can go online to TestingMom.com.”
- Offer two choices – Although both choices get the same result, it seemingly gives your child a decision in the matter.
- Don’t yell – If you feel like you’re going to explode, put yourself in time out. Psychologists say the more you yell at your child, the more he/she will tune you out. It also damages his/her sense of security and self-esteem.
- Praise him/her – “Thank you, you really listened well” is an easy reward and children work for praise….it’s a win/win.
Remember, when your child starts school, he/she will be expected to listen to the teacher, answer any questions and follow directions. With that said, learning to listen begins and is taught at home! It may not be easy, but it’s always worth it.