Have you ever pronounced a consequence on your child in anger and then realized it was completely inappropriate to the 'crime'? Acting in anger and telling your child that they are grounded until they are 35 is just plain silly!! On the one hand, it is impossible to enforce and on the other, who wants their child in the house making your life miserable for any length of time? Drinking a cup of coffee or tea and a wander around the back yard to cool off will help you think straight before issuing a consequence.
Yes, I can think of numerous times when I was a parent of younger children (that seems like 100 years ago!!) when my reaction in addressing my child’s misbehavior was something that I later regretted. I have learned some valuable lessons that I want to pass on to you.
PRO-ACTION vs REACTIONPRO-ACTION: Kids deserve to know your expectations. You explain what situation you are applying consequences to, then train your kids in the way you want them to behave. You create either positive or negative consequences for their meeting or not meeting these expectations. Achieving the very best from your kids will always come from praise for the positive rather than constantly berating them for the negatives. Pro-action means you tell your kids clearly what the consequences will be for particular negative behaviors. They make the decision to cross the line, and if they do, they already know what is coming. That is playing fair with your kids.
REACTION: This is when you act without thinking which does not often bode well for either child or parent. It often means that too harsh a consequence is issued which is unfair to the child. It also means that a parent owes the child an apology for acting out of anger or frustration and not hearing the whole story before corrective action is applied.
HOW TO BE FAIR, FIRM AND FRIENDLYA quick check of your own frustration or anger levels will tell you whether objectivity in a snap corrective decision can be achieved. Give yourself and your child time to cool off. It might mean sending the child to their room or talking the situation over with your spouse if a predetermined consequence has not been laid down. It may be a time to reflect on whether you have made your expectations clear and/or whether you are displaying the behavior you are expecting of your child.
When you are ready to face your child try the following:
1) Tell him/her how you feel about his/her actions or lack of good judgment.
2) Tell them that it always pays to tell the truth, that trying to talk you out of the consequence
is not going to work because it is important to learn to take responsibility for their own
3) Tell your child that even though you are disappointed you love them and trust they
have learned the appropriate way to behave from here on.
4) Follow up with praise when they get it right. Tell them they can always come to you
to ask how to deal with situations they are unsure of.
5) Finally, apply the consequence when you are ready and as it is necessary.
Sometimes, especially at Middle or High School, a child may throw you a curve ball and do something out of character like skipping school. You think, “But my child would never do that!” It can happen to the best behaved children, especially if they are with a group of other kids egging them on. When something like this happens, be prepared to wait a couple of days until all the facts are in and you have got over the shock. Then act.
Written by Brian Burgess, Forefront Families