Thursday, May 3, 2012


Give them when necessary, but maybe let the knowledge of the consequence sink in and watch your child do the right thing on their own...

How could this sweet silly girl ever get in trouble???

Well, I'm no parenting expert, just in the trenches of motherhood like the rest but occasionally we discover things as we go, and not necessarily on purpose or to any credit of our own.  Lately I've discovered something about consequences...

I warned J that all her dresses (yes ALL dressups, skirts, play dresses, church dresses) would be taken away for a week if certain behavior continued....It finally got to the point that I had to stop warning and follow through and she was SO angry and defiant about the consequence.  When we got home, however, we were busy getting dinner ready so I figured I'd physically take the dresses away when we went upstairs to get ready for bed.  In the time between getting home and getting upstairs, J had time to calm down and think it over, she talked to us about it and we were able to explain to her again, but now with her calm and listening rather than having a freak out, why she could not act that way and why we had to take her dresses away to help her remember to listen and to treat her family members with kindness.  Anyways, by the time we went upstairs for bed, she was the one taking all the skirts, dresses and dressup clothes away into my art room.  She was vigilant about making sure I found every single skirt in her dresser.  Funny though, after it was time for bed and she saw her empty closet, she got this look on her face and said, almost as if she was just thinking out loud..."why did I help?"  This was last saturday and it was a pretty effective consequence since she didn't get to wear a dress to church on sunday...she almost didn't want to go to church because of that.  I can tell you what though, she has been an amazing big sister to her brother this week in response to that...for the most part.

A couple days later, she had a 2nd incident at a friends house where I felt the need to replace something that she had somehow ruined...not on purpose but by not being careful or thinking about what she was doing.  Both times it was something small, but still.  When the 2nd incident happened, I told her this time she had to help pay for it with her own money.  I had no idea she even valued her money yet, but apparently she really does. She had about the biggest blowup screaming "I'LL NEVER PAY MY MONEY!!!!!"  She was so angry about the consequence of having to use her own money to help replace the item.  Then yesterday when we stopped by their house to give them the replacement, she was screaming at me all the way there in the car, how she will never help pay for it, and how she was going to make me pay for which I replied "I already do...and I paid for the princess flashlight we replaced and now this"...anyways....lots more 5 year old sassiness.  I stayed calm and just kept telling her, "it's already happening, you are going to pay $1 of your money to help pay for it".  Anyways...not on purpose, but just like the dress consequence...I didn't get around to actually physically following through and taking her money yet because of being busy and distracted, but she knew it was already decided.  So today, sweet look on her face, she came down to me, stood there, looked down fiddling her feet and hands and said "I want to help pay my money for the flashlight AND the toothpaste...both of them, can you help me get my piggy bank down?"  

Wow.....yesterday she told me she wasn't going to have a mom ever again in her defiance over having to help pay for the toothpaste (it was a brand new tube and she squeezed it all out and I wanted her to learn not to do stuff like that, especially at other people's houses) and now today she willingly wants to pay me back for both items.  I was really happy I didn't have to pry her hands off her piggy bank to get the dollar from her and that she had thought about it enough to decide she should help pay for the first item as well.  We went up to her room together and counted out $1.00  

So my new realization from these 2 recent incidents is that it seems to really work well when you tell them what the consequence is, staying calm...they can freak out over the consequence, but you are still calm and then...let it sink in, talking about it when they ask in a calm way and explain to them how important it is to obey mom and dad, treat others nicely, not be destructive, etc and how we give them consequences to help them learn so they don't forget and do the same thing again. Because we love them and want to help them be great people, and that means we have to make sure they don't think it's ok do do certain things or act certain ways.  Then, after the fact, see if they put the consequence into action themselves, willingly because they know it's the right thing.  It seems way more effective (and easier) than doing it in the heat of the moment...prying her off the dresses or piggy bank and having a traumatic experience as we take her dresses away or her money away.  The tantrum ABOUT the consequence is bad enough, I am really liking the part when she cools down after a a couple hours or a day and then happily HELPS put the consequence into action.

I least it's working for us right now....anyone else have similar experiences?  How do YOU handle consequences?  Maybe you only do positive reinforcement?  We do both, trying to be as encouraging and positive as we can, but sometimes consequences need to happen...

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