How to Handle Actions and Consequences as a Parent

 So often, we make one of two mistakes: we either lash out, making our point that the conduct is unacceptable, but damaging the child’s spirit in the process, or we do nothing, giving our kids the impression that there are no boundaries for their behavior. Read more at https://www.epicfamilies.com/blog/actions-and-consequences

If there was ever a story to tell about actions and consequences, it's this one. One night, Jonathan (then age 3) and I were sitting out on the deck after dinner. For some reason, he thought it was a good idea to crush some of my flowers. I told him to stop it, probably not too kindly.

A few moments later, I was stunned when an entire bowl of dog kibble was dumped on my head, followed seconds later by the bowl of water.  As I sat there dripping and figuring out how to get the now soggy kibble out of my shirt and hair, my mind was swirling with ideas about consequences. Yelling? Spanking? Time out?

When it comes to actions and consequences, so often we make one of two mistakes. We either lash out, making our point that the conduct is unacceptable, but damaging the child’s spirit in the process. Or we do nothing, giving our kids the impression that there are no boundaries for their behavior.

So what to do instead?

How to Handle Actions and Consequences as a Parent

Never lash out in anger.

Breathe. You’d be amazed at how 15 seconds of deep breathing in and out can calm you. I remember getting spanked as a child for something my sister had done. My parents reacted in anger, and the culprit stood there silently and watched MY butt take the punishment for HER crime. That sent two messages. To me — injustice. To her — the (short-lived) triumph of deception. Always regroup before correcting.

Related: Time Outs for Grownups

Address the bad behavior calmly, but firmly.

While yelling might feel good in the moment, it makes us feel guilty. And, in the long run, it’s less effective than pausing to think or first asking WHY she acted out and then addressing the misbehavior.

Make the consequences fit the crime.

For example, if your child disobeys and won’t turn off the TV, the consequences should relate to TV watching time, not another aspect of his life (like "no snacks for a week").

So, how did I handle the dog kibble/water incident?

Jonathan and I picked up the food together, while we discussed how Jesus wants us to behave. I apologized for yelling and forgave him for dumping the food on my head. And…oops! Some of the water from my water bottle “accidentally” spilled onto his head! Perfect parenting? Nope. But I think I got my point across...

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Hi, I'm Beth. I help busy moms ditch the overwhelm and gain confidence, so they can enjoy parenting more, yell less, and have peaceful kids and a happy family.

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