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My Kid Made a Bad Choice So How Come I’m Punished?

You can create consequences for misbehavior that don't penalize yourself.

Parents resort to physical punishment of children because they don’t know alternatives that really work. No doubt, you need to have a plan of action ready.

Effective parenting requires consequences that fit the crime. Not consequences that make you suffer.

Here are 4 tips that insure you’re not the one feeling the pain of your child’s mistake.

Threats are only as good as their follow-through.

Your family is ready to go to a movie. You tell Johnny he can’t go until his toys are put away. He puts away all the toys except the one he brought from because it was special to him. You have no babysitter and you must leave to be on time. He doesn’t follow-through so one of two things happen. You either bring Johnny anyway or a parent stays home ruining the family’s plans.

You are better off postponing the consequence until later than threatening with no enforcement. It only takes one empty threat for a child to assign no value to them.

Use phony consequences.

One of the most helpful parenting tips I can give you! Public tantrums thrown by toddlers, or teenagers not calling as requested, often causes hardship on parents. Prevent your own misery with a little creativity.

Try accepting a ‘fake’ call from a mother of his best friend inviting him over to swim (or whatever he loves to do). Let your child hear you respond to the ‘caller’,

“That sounds like so much fun! I know he would love to. But I’m afraid he can’t. It’s been a rough week but hopefully next time.”

Pretend you planned a family night out for ice cream but it had to be cancelled.

“Sorry, Johnny, I bet you’re disappointed we can’t go for ice cream. Maybe next time if you choose to treat your sister nicely.”

Have a child prone to a tantrum because you won’t buy him something he wants at the store?  Make a trip to the store when you don’t need to with a plan to reinforce a firm message. Go for the temptations and be prepared to leave store immediately.

“We don’t get to go to the store with Mom when we scream for toys. When Mom says no it means no.”

If you’re really brave and want to insure the public tantrums stop for good, have a friend meet you there who’s in cahoots with you. When your kid throws a tantrum, walk out and say,

“I’m going home now.”

Your child will likely follow you screaming. (Friend follows child). Once outside the store,

“I’m afraid you’ll have to ride home with Mrs. Jones today.”

(You could offer the option one time of calming down and re-entering the store with you to save your friend the grief. Make sure and offer to repay the favor!)

Tell them what you expect ahead of time.

So simple to do, often forgotten, and makes a huge difference. Prior to entering a restaurant or store, dignify what behavior you expect inside.

When your child eats breakfast, state the behavior you want that day.

“Cindy, I expect that you are going to share nicely with your sister today. Is that right?”

As parents, it is our duty to set realistic, age appropriate expectations if we are to expect compliance.

Surprises work wonders.

You may have heard the slogan, “Catch them being good.” Reward good behavior at the time it’s happening. Good strategy but I suggest an even better one.

Reward good behavior randomly and occasionally. Your child has been listening well. Or grades have improved. Bed has been made every day. Chores completed timely. Bring home a fun pack of gum from the store, attach a note that says, “Good things happen to those who make good choices.”

Your teenager has been very responsible and coming home on time, calling when asked, etc. Fill the car with gas and put a note on steering wheel, “I love how responsible you’ve been. I know where you are and I appreciate that. Enjoy this free tank of gas.”

The little kid who no longer throws tantrums in the store— hand him a toy when he’s calm and ask him to put it back. Praise his great choice when he complies. One time let him keep it on your terms.

“When you behave nicely every time we’re at the store you never know what might happen.”

The surprise can be a gift or just a comment, a note, an outing, or a hug.

Saying what you mean and meaning what you say is the key to discipline. It is more important that you’re consistent than immediate. A little planning and creativity will expedite the learning curve, save you time and inconvenience.

Your child needs to feel the anguish over a poor choice. Not you.

"When you come to then end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on." Franklin D. Roosevelt

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