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The Big List of Consequences

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Before we get to the list, a few general guidelines on giving consequences:

  1. Make your rules, expectations, and requests simple and clear. Use eye contact and a firm voice. Ask your child to restate the rule or request so you know that he understands. Notice when he follows the rule or complies with your request and give him positive attention for doing so.
  2. Know what the consequence will be before the misbehavior or noncompliance occurs. Don't decide in the heat of the moment. If you have to give a consequence and you haven't decided beforehand, send your child to her room and tell her that you will come in to tell her what the consequence will be in a short time.
  3. Give a warning. Kids get carried away; but when you give a warning of the consequence to come, you focus their attention to the appropriate behavior. Older kids especially have a strong sense of fairness. When they receive a consequence after they have been warned, they accept the consequence and learn from it, rather than playing a victim role.
  4. Don't start with your big gun. You might have to add on another consequence, so you need to be able to use progressively unpleasant consequences for persistent misbehavior. Most consequences should be immediate, brief, and related to the misbehavior. Don't ground your child for a week in a fit of pique. Ground them for the rest of the day. Trust me, you'll get your point across and save yourself a lot trouble.
  5. If a consequence isn't working, try something new or rethink your approach. Are you making your expectations crystal clear? Are you attending to and reinforcing positive behavior? Are you being consistent in applying the consequence? Are you undermining the consequence by letting him off early or allowing other desirable activities to replace the consequence? Remember that the purpose of a consequence for misbehavior is for the child to look at the result of their behavior and learn from it.

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