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How to Create a List Of Consequences for Bad Behavior that is Age-Appropriate

When you know they know better, but you just don’t know what better to do. You need to do something. Because, while your child may not be out of control… bad behaviors snowball. And the last thing you want is for her to become out of control. So, there you are, wishing you had a master list of consequences for bad behavior that was age-appropriate for your child to refer to.

What is Better Than a List of Consequences for Bad Behavior?

I’m not going to give you a list, because I want to give you something better. This is going to be one of those, “teach a man to fish” sort of lessons.

Because while I could give you list after list of possible consequences for kids – until you get it deep down inside, it won’t make a difference.

Your family is different than mine. And mine is different from the neighbors. And theirs different from the other. Taking away screens won’t help you if you don’t allow screen time. Taking away dessert after dinner won’t help you if you don’t do sweets every day.

Little boy in orange shirt pouting with dad because of list of consequences for bad behavior

No, the truth is my list of age-appropriate consequences for a child is going to look different than your list, and the list of your neighbor. The important thing then… is that you HAVE a list. More important than that is that you have a training, regulation, and discipline plan. And even more important than that is that you ENFORCE and implement all four.

And that, my friend, is where I can help you!

Right now, we’ll focus specifically on how to come up with creative consequences to fit your child’s misbehavior.

Get out your pen and paper, because we’re going to do some work!

It’ll be fun and empowering work. It won’t take that long.

And when you’re done, you’ll breathe a sigh of relief, have newfound parenting confidence and be ready the next time problematic behaviors arise.

Process of Creating Age Appropriate Consequences For Bad Behavior


#1. Make a list.

Include in it, your child’s:

#2. Make a second list.

Include in it, all the blessings your family enjoys.

#3. Match them up!


The end result in Joe’s brain is: X behavior made life no fun.

No blocks.

No playtime.

And No cookie.

I don’t want to continue to do X behavior. Z behavior made mommy happy, gave me extra block time, AND a cookie! I want to do more of Z behavior!


Jenny’s thought processing will be similar to Joe’s. Certain behaviors result in inevitable outcomes. When a child doesn’t like the outcome of a behavior, that behavior becomes bad (to her) because the outcome was undesirable.

Likewise, when a behavior produces a good consequence or positive outcome, the behavior is then deemed desirable in the child’s brain.


Consequences for Kids vs. Punishments for Kids

Many discipline tactics and consequences don’t work long term. They don’t change the root of bad behavior deep down in the heart of a child.

Primarily because there is no behavior ownership taking place.

This is what I often see when discipline is approached from a punishment perspective.

If you take something away from a child for a day or even a week, a child simply has to weather the storm and wait it out.

Punishment for kids serves as more of a “slap on the wrist” whereas consequences, whether positive or negative, that are the direct result of a behavior, make a lasting impact.

Brain development is happening during these disciplinary measures.

When you train and teach him that every good thing available to him is a blessing and a privilege that has to be earned, he can take responsibility for earning privileges.

Want something great, Zack, Joe, or Jenny?


Ok… go get it!

You have all these things available to you. They simply require that you, _______!

Make the Consequences Mindset – Shift.

Toys, screens, trampolines, and treats don’t show love to your child. Those are THINGS. Things are privileges. Special events and times are privileges as well. Your family must stand for something, and when it stands for something great, family rules and consequences are going to be established and enforced.

If your child is not displaying the kind of behavior your family stands for, then it stands to reason, she can not participate in the blessings that come with being a member of your family.

If you have a family night full of fun planned, but your child will likely spoil it with a bad attitude… she doesn’t get to participate!

Your hugs, your kind words, your time, your service…. Those actions show love. And your child will never have to go without them.

Everything outside of that is extra.

Extra has to be earned!

Final Thoughts on Your List of Consequences for Bad Behavior

Make some lists. Write down the ins and outs of who your child is, what your family stands for, how you expect it to be represented, then set standards and expectations accordingly. You’ll have the list to refer back to as your child ages and accomplishes an area of good behavior.

Consider every privilege your family enjoys. Everything outside of clean air, clean water, food, and clothing, is pretty much a privilege!

We are entitled to nothing!

Neither are our children.



  • Bethany says:

    Hi Shelley, I’m so grateful to have found your site and am really enjoying your content! I’ve been receiving the emails and it’s very helpful. I’m trying to come up with consequences for my 4 year old. I have five children, and since we brought our newest addition home from the NICU a few months ago, my 4 year old has been throwing things, hitting his older sisters and me, and just having lots of tantrums. Prior to having our baby I was in the hospital on bedrest for pre-eclampsia for 4 weeks, and then spent another 4 weeks driving to the NICU everyday. I think it all just took a toll on him, though we certainly saw the Lord’s faithfulness! I ztry to give him some undivided attention when I’m able and it helps some, as I know it’s just been a big adjustment, however we’re still struggling in this area. Help appreciated!!

    • Shelley says:

      Hi Bethany!

      Congratulations on the new baby! What a precious gift. Undivided attention is a great place to start with your four-year-old. Investing in relationships is healthy and necessary. That said, what happens the vast majority of the time is that standards and expectations get skewed and skirted with a big life adjustment such as a new baby, then parents try to overcompensate with attention and time, and go too far the other direction or simply don’t address the underlying problem with is blurry boundaries. More than anything else your four-year-old needs to know that he is no less or more important to the family than he was before the baby arrived, that the baby is equally as special and important as him, and that aggression won’t be accepted – just as it wasn’t accepted before baby.

      Spend the time, give him the attention, speak life and affirmation over him, then hold him to the same standards you always have. Since his behavior has gotten to this point, I would highly recommend what I call “clean slating it” – which is to take away all his privileges and tell him he may only earn them back. One day of no yelling, hitting, etc equals 30 minutes of screentime (or toys, cartoons,) etc. Create a behavior chart and help him visually see his progress or lack thereof. Stick to it and stand firm, knowing that even if it took him a month to get back on track, back on track is where you want to be, whereas if you don’t do so now, it won’t get better on its own. Then you’re faced with years of perpetually worsening behavior and likely sibling conflict.

      I know you’re likely worn out with a new baby in the house, but approaching the problem this way will actually be less work and make dealing with it easier for you.

      “Father God, You know Bethany’s heart and you know the needs of her family. You know her boy better than anyone, and I humbly ask that you touch her, him, and the whole family now. Give her courage to parent in a bold way. Reveal to her how to train her son up in the way he should go. Thank you now for future’s victory. In Jesus’ name, Amen!”

  • Great article! Simple ways to discipline children. With holding privileges sometimes workswith my son sometimes, but most of the time encouraging my son to do something he loves doing together like reading books (which he loves) or painting etc activities makes sure he follows the rules around the house. Of course there are days when he throws tantrums and we just allow him to vent it out for sometime and let him calm down before talking sense into him. Your article has nice pointers.

  • Elizabeth says:

    I’m a foster parent of 2 children ages 5 and 3. My trouble is at nap time and bedtime. The past week has been awful! It takes over 2 hours to get them to sleep. When they first came it was understandable. Then after a week it was down to 45 min less which i could handle. Now this week for some unknown reason it’s back to 2 hours or longer. We’ve talked about what’s expected, we read to books, I put on soft music, sit with them for 20 minutes. Then they are supposed to stay in bed. The only exception is to go to the bathroom. But the oldest is out of bed playing, keeping the youngest one up, throwing things… we’r have even talked about what ia allowed in bed with us such as pillow, blankets, and a stuffed animal nothing else. It still doesn’t help. He has lost the privilege to sleep on the top bunk until he can show me he can stay in bed. I’m so frustrated at myself for not knowing what else to do. I hope you can help!

    • Shelley says:

      Hi Elizabeth!

      I’m so sorry for your frustration! I can understand the toll that takes on you. I would start by reading this post here. Please read through all the comments as well. Additionally, if you haven’t gone through my free parenting workbook, that would be another great step in the right direction. You can access it here.


  • Elle says:

    Hi Shelley I have a six year old girl and an eight year old who fight about the dumbest things every day like what color cup they want for dinner what should I do?

    • Shelley says:

      Hi Elle!

      The short answer is to allow them fewer choices. Often times it’s necessary to suspend their rights to choose insignificant things such as this until you’ve spent some time intentionally training good behavior. Provide a short explanation that you’ll be selecting things for them until you are regularly seeing improved behavior, then be intentional to train the behavior you desire. I’d recommend reading this post here and the 5 Steps eBook here.

    • Kayla says:

      I have a 12 year old step daughter who is the laziest girl I know. She complains when asked to do chores, her dad seems to have a hard time putting his foot down on things. Like giving consequences for selfish acts. Me being the step-mom, I dont know what to do. We dont have full custody of her either and her dad is scared that if he says something she wont ever come back. How do I help him enforce rules?

      • Shelley says:

        Hi Kayla!

        A home without healthy authority is like a world completely devoid of safety and security. Provide BIG rewards (such as fun trips and extra family time) when she does chores and helps out with a good attitude. Likewise, withhold all privileges if she doesn’t help or displays a bad attitude. Make it a really fantastic environment on one end of the spectrum and dull and boring on the other end.

        I know blended family situations can be scary. But… she really needs y’all to provide the security she desperately needs. Particularly at that age!!!!



    Okay so my fiance has three children (10 YOF and x2 8 YOM twins) whom still reside with Nanny and poppa and him and the mother have been absent since they were young I should say the mother has. Broken promises after broken promises… the dad has been in the picture the whole time just not consistent due to drugs and the paternal grandparents raised them and basically there’s so much sibling rivalry that they fight over colors of bowls plates cups. They will bold face look u in the eyes and tell you a lie. They don’t listen or respect but they have been spoiled to the point that they don’t think they have to do or earn anything they recieve. The stealing and lying are always worse after what I like to call a “egg-donor pop in” And spankings to them are just temporary… and personally I don’t do spankings cause I’ve raised a 13 year old teenager without ever laying a hand on her. Help me plz I don’t want my 3 new children to basically ruin my 2 year old sweet baby boys behavior and attitude!!! I don’t know what direction to go or what punishments to do or I’ve thought of trying that MomBuck punishment and reward system … Plz help I’m clueless and trying to be fill in mom but they don’t live with us which makes it very hard! I went from mother of 1 to mother of 5 …

    • Shelley says:

      Hi Tamara!

      Thanks so much for reaching out!

      Your questions pose a GREAT many topics for discussion. One of which being choosing a spouse. Your situation is a perfect example of a few vitally important considerations for men and women as we think about who we are going to spend the rest of our lives with and every hurdle that will need to be addressed as a result.

      Blended families are DIFFICULT! No, if, and’s, or buts about it! Every couple you’ll meet who has successfully built a healthy blended family will tell you it involves A LOT of sacrifices and far more giving than taking.

      Unfortunately, there is NO easy OR quick answer to any element of the older children’s needs. The amount of consistently good parenting they need at this point to break the bad habits that have been created is monumental. Not impossible, but a long process.

      At this point, the very best thing you can do for them is to start within your own four walls. Build a family culture at your house that has consistent, firm, and loving rule, boundaries, and standards of behavior. Require those rules, boundaries, and standards to apply to everyone that comes into your home and into your life. That starts with you and your fiance. My experience reveals, again and again, that the best parenting, for the healthiest, most well-rounded, and well-behaved kids, who grow to be the best adults, begins with mom and dad, a rock-solid marriage, and a stable home environment.

      That is where you start. Everything else is a continuation of that foundation.

      There is no short answer here. However, you must start somewhere. Take a deep breath and just tackle one thing at a time. Start Here with my ebook if you haven’t read it yet. But remember, it all starts at the top. Everything you attempt will be more effective when the leaders of the home are operating well in their roles. You have to do that evaluation for yourself.

      You got this! Many blessings as you embark on this often difficult, yet eternally rewarding endeavor.

      p.s. Did you know you can subscribe to Mama Duck? I can offer better support to questions via email when you subscribe. When you get request the ebook, you’ll be subscribed. Feel free to reach out to me there!

  • Melissa says:

    Thank you for this. Do you have any recommendations or something you could point me toward in dealing with a just-turned-two-year-old and throwing food and utensils at dinner? We have tried timeout, withholding dessert (which we don’t even do everyday, so not really a big deal), simply talking to him about it, ignoring the behavior in case it was just attention-seeking, etc. Nothing seems to be working and I’m getting very tired of it. I’m not going to withhold food from my child, so I don’t know what to do. Happens almost every meal, but particularly at dinner time, even if he likes what we’re having. Thank you!

    • Shelley says:

      Hi Melissa!

      Thanks so much for reaching out. I know how frustrating this kind of behavior can be.

      Mealtime is just that… mealtime. If he’s throwing food, you are not withholding food by taking it away, you are withholding ammunition!

      Food he’s throwing instead of eating isn’t a meal. If he’s throwing food, it’s completely reasonable to take it away and say, “Food isn’t for throwing, it is for eating. What you are doing is wasteful and won’t be allowed. You may try to eat again later. You will not be allowed to throw food.”

      As for utensils, eating with fingers is great for fine motor skills at this age. I would not offer him utensils to eat with until he is respecting and obeying your authority during meal time.

      Many blessings,

  • Rhulani Marcia Risaba Mklama says:

    Dear Shelley
    Thank you for all your teachings, they inspire me for good and godly parenting.
    Shelley, my baby Wezi is now 16 months of age. She likes unpacking dishes,toys and whatever she finds. At what age do I start showing her the right thing to do and how? (She is a good listener and she understands when wetalk to her) . At times she shows tantrums, and I am not sure what to do…

    • Shelley says:

      Hi Rhulani!

      The time to start is now! She can understand a lot, and it’s important to remember that the purpose of training is SO that a child understands, not waiting for her TO understand. Make sense? How would you feel if that special baby of yours grew to be a well-behaved and extraordinary child? That’s just what the online parenting course I created is all about. Find out more here.

      Thanks so much for the comment! Always nice to hear from you.

  • Kelsey says:

    Thank you for sharing this! I have been struggling with how to help my 2 young children see the connection between the consequence and the bad behavior. You gave me more than a few pointers! ?

Hi there! I'm Mama Duck,

I'm a stay-at-home/work-at-home, homeschooling Mama of 4 beautiful kiddos, wife to my loving husband, Parenting Coach, Speaker, and Writer. I adore the sound of my children's giggles, that first sip of hot coffee, and a snuggly blanket fresh out of the dryer. Here on Faithful Parenting, my heart is to equip mamas with the skills, knowledge, and biblical wisdom to raise fantastic kids and build a tethered family!