Do Our Kids Really Need Consequences?

free as a bird
Build bridges with your children not walls.

Welcome to Part 2 of our series: Teaching Our Kids Boundaries  (based on the book Boundaries with Kids)

As a counselor I have heard many children say this:  I disobey. I get lectured. I get grounded. I get the silent treatment. And sometimes I don’t even get a kiss goodnight. Relational consequences are not a healthy form of dealing with disobedience. Even though I am very familiar with this pattern because my parents reverted to this form of consequences, I was shocked to find out as a counselor how many parents use this as a form of punishment towards their children.

Life works on reality consequences. Psychological and negative relational consequences such as getting angry, sending guilt messages, nagging, and withdrawing love usually do not motivate people to change. If they do, the change is short-lived, directed only at getting the person to lighten up on the psychological pressure. True change usually comes only when someone’s behavior causes him to encounter reality consequences like pain or losses of time, money, possessions, things he enjoys and people he values; that is reality consequences.

  • How many late nights have you spent helping with a school project that was due the next morning?
  • A child who doesn’t want to wake up in the morning because they were online until 1a.m. the night before.
  • Emailing a teacher for the spelling words because your child decided that they would rather draw in their notebook instead of copying the words from the board for their test.

Sounds familiar?

The Law of Sowing & Reaping

This is the first principle shared for setting boundaries- The Law of Sowing & Reaping.  “Consequences transfer the need to be responsible from the parent to the child. Consequences make it the child’s problem.  Too many times, children’s behavior does not become a problem for them. It does not cost them things they value. Instead, parents allow the problem to become a problem for them instead of their children.  Remember, the child needs to worry about and solve the problem. The next time a situation arises remember these questions:

  1. Whose problem is this?
  2. What can I do to help him experience the problem?
  3. What am I doing to keep  him from experiencing the problem?

Give children freedom, allow choices and then manage the consequences accordingly. Heap on the praise and increase the freedoms when children use responsiblity well.  Make sure they know why they are getting more privileges because of their trustworthiness.

 When children make bad choices, empathize:

  • “That’s sad not getting to play today.”
  • “I know. I feel for you missing the game. I hate it when I don’t get to do something I want.”

Avoid statements like:

  • “Don’t come crying to me.  If you had just done your work you wouldn’t be in this mess.
  • “If you would of done…. you would of gotten to….. Maybe next time you wont’ be so selfish.”

Build bridges with your children instead of walls.  The first set of statements will help the child correct their behavior instead of resenting the parent.

The goal is not to control the children to make them do what you want.  The goal is to give them the choice to do what they want, and make it so painful to do the wrong thing that they will not want to.

You are letting them choose their consequence.  “Sue, hitting your brother is not okay.  If you would like to stay down here with us and play you need to stop if you don’t stop you will go will go to timeout (she hates being by herself in timeout).

Wear your heart on a string

Freedom = Responsibility = Consequences = Love

Give freedom, require responsibility, render consequences and be loving throughout.

Do Not Interfere

As parents it’s a struggle to allow our children to suffer consequences. Sowing and reaping principle only works if we do not interfere.  Let children suffer the sorrow now instead of later as adults when they can’t hold a job because they keep getting to work late on account of having stayed up late the night before. “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11

Balance Grace and Truth

“Grace includes support, resources, love, compassion, forgiveness, and all of the relational sides of God’s nature.  Truth is the structure of life; it tells us how we are supposed to live our lives and how life really works.

~Examples of this principle, will be discussed in our next article. If you missed Part 1- Parenting With the End in Mind click to read.

If you don’t want to miss an article in our series and you’d like  the Teaching Our Kids Boundaries Series to come to your inbox simply click Subscribe to Inspired By Family Magazine!

images via flickr-demandaj

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6 Responses to “Do Our Kids Really Need Consequences?”

  1. April 26, 2012 at 12:59 pm #

    Hi there – I love this. My daughters are 16 and 19 and i find the need to build bridges everyday. It seems more important everyday. God bless and thank you for linking this post with Winsome Wednesday.

    • April 26, 2012 at 5:53 pm #

      Tracy thanks for sharing that. Yes, I can totally see how it gets harder. More of an incentive for me to be intentional now.

  2. July 13, 2012 at 3:07 pm #

    This is a great post. I love all the points you made. Thank you for sharing. 🙂


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