This topic is one of the most difficult to grasp for some parents because many times our emotions get in the way as parents. Our emotional response to a child acting out can really lead to some crazy decisions when we choose what consequence our child will earn! Consequences should for the most part be natural and logical. The response cost for the wrong behavior should in some way reflect the actual behavior itself. For example, if my son turns his radio so loud while I am on a business call that I had to hang up the call, I may be livid and my first thought may be to yell down the hallway-
” Johnny you just messed up an important phone call for me so now you are grounded -no friends for a week!”
Can you name 2-3 things right off the bat that are wrong with this consequence? Take a guess.There are several things that could be better in this interaction, but the very first is the lack of thinking it out before just blurting it out down the hall. When we give a consequence we should remain calm, let the consequence do the work, not our voice inflection. So rule number 1, remain calm even when you are very upset. If you need time, then simply tell your child that you will be talking with them in 10 minutes . Collect yourself, and then resume the interaction. Next we should always start any interaction with something positive if possible, Also, the actual response cost should be related to the behavior. Finally identify a skill as I mentioned in the previous post. So in this case we could rephrase the comment to go something like this;
” Johnny, I realize you are excited about your trip this weekend, but you cranking your music up so loudly when I was on the phone was really disturbing,and caused me to lose my call. You did not show any respect for others and now you have lost your radio for the rest of the day. ”
When giving a consequence then,
1- Use a calm voice
2- Make the response cost relative to the behavior
3-Start the interaction with a positive note if possible
4-Label a skill so the child knows what they did wrong.
More to come on future posts. Please make a comment if you would like a more specific answer or a certain topic!