Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Tips for Enforcing Consequences

If your child is always perfectly behaved, stop reading! In fact, call me! Please guest post! But if you feel your child needs to understand that poor choices have a consequence, then this post is for you. Here are are some easy-to-implement ways of enforcing consequences:

  • Clearly and simply state expectations according to your child's ability to understand.
  • Briefly give the reason behind your expectation.This will teach children to think logically.
  • Together discuss and establish rules and consequences before tempers are out of control.
  • Make consequences reasonable, respectful, predictable, and reliable.
  • If a child ignores an expectation, briefly state the consequence. Younger children may need a reminder before you enforce a consequence. However, if that warning is ignored, immediately follow through with the consequence and stick to it.
  • If you want children to listen to you the first time, then you must follow through on expected consequences—each and every time.
  • Don’t set consequences you won’t keep or make ridiculous threats you have no intention of enforcing. That is why it is important to have already thought-through consequences.
  • Do not feel guilty about enforcing a consequence. The child made the wrong choice. You may want to use empathy, such as acknowledging that you realize the child has had an important privilege taken away, but the next time they will know that you mean what you say and this should help prevent future problems and confrontations. 

If consequences aren’t consistently enforced, they are useless. Enforcing consequences may take enormous stamina but you will have fewer problems as your children grow older if you enforce consequences when they are young.

A Personal Note
I have been fortunate. My daughter with special needs has a very sweet disposition and wants to please me. On a few occasions when she was younger and I did not like her behavior, I would send her to her room to think and perhaps take a nap. When I checked on her a short time later, she would be soundly asleep. She was tired and the nap magically cured the crankiness. Now that she is older, I only need to tell her that I don’t appreciate her behavior and she thinks about what she has said or done. She does not want my disapproval so she cooperates. She knows that I love her dearly and that I only ask things that are fair and consistent. I praise her often for good behavior and for helping me or others. We respect each other.

The same holds true for my grandchildren. I even made a list of rules for the grandchildren to obey while in my home. It keeps my sanity and they know their boundaries so that we can all have a good time together. Now we don't even need the list. My husband often uses humor to remind children of their behavior. He exaggerates what they are doing. By acting silly, they see the inappropriateness of their behavior, we have a good laugh, and discipline is rarely needed. But they know that we mean what we say and follow through every time.

Helpful Phrase
"No means no. I don’t argue with children. I have my reasons for saying no. When I say no it is due to time, money, safety or health concerns. We don't want anybody to get hurt and we want everyone to have a good time (or learn).” This works in the classroom, too. The more you say it, the better it works.

This is a series on Discipline. Click on links below to view other posts:


  1. Love these reminder quotes!


    Jessica Stanford
    Mrs. Stanford's Class
    I hope that you'll join me for my giveaway ♥

    1. Great post Susan. I like, "No means 'No'." Too many of the younger moms I know will negotiate with the children.
      Mom: "Bed time in ten minutes."
      Kid: "Thirty?"
      Mom: "No, ten."
      Kid: "How about thirty? I want to finish this game, show, ______. (fill in the blank)"
      Often a compromise is agreed on, but then the child will be crankier in the morning because of lack of sleep. Mom knew, she just did make "no mean no."

      The other thing I tell moms is not to ask a question if it isn't negotiable. "Do you want to put your pjs on?" Isn't up for debate, yet by asking the question, mom allows it to be a debatable issue.

    2. Nita - thank you so much for visiting. I LOVE your blog and your quilting & book are fabulous! I may try the 5 Minute Writing on Fridays. See you around then and thanks for visiting.

    3. Jessica - you have an amazing teacher's blog with great tips. Love it. Thanks for stopping by. And Nita - you are so right - give common sense choices.