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.
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What’s 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.
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:
- Love language (go here to figure this out, this post is geared towards babies, but will work for all ages)
- Favorite things
#2. Make a second list.
Include in it, all the blessings your family enjoys.
- Family outings?
- Screen time?
- Outdoor toys?
- Game time?
- Extracurricular activities (baseball, t-ball, soccer, etc.)
- Family nights?
#3. Match them up!
- I have a 2-year-old named Joe; he loves cookies and building blocks with mom. Joe has started thinking it’s funny to throw blocks while we’re playing with them. I put the blocks away and walk away, telling Joe, “You will not be playing blocks because you are choosing to throw them.” You may try again tomorrow to play blocks if you do not throw anything the rest of today. After Joe plays blocks without throwing them, he gets 10 extra minutes of block time as well as a reward cookie for a job well done!
The end result in Joe’s brain is: X behavior made life no fun.
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!
- I have a 4-year-old named Jenny. Jenny loves My Little Pony, MnM’s, and playing outside. Jenny has started being very sassy. She is rude when she speaks to me and throws tantrums. I will not be buying any more MnM’s. I am going to put all her my little pony’s in a box and store them away. Jenny may go outside; however, she can not play with or on any outside toys. She is old enough to show me one full week’s worth of good behavior. When she does so, I’ll reward her with a My Little Pony doll or two. She can continue to earn back the toys, the MnM’s, and outside play toys over time.
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.
- I have a 6-year-old named Zack. Zack loves playing video games and jumping on the trampoline after school. Lately, Zack has not been picking up his room correctly. He is being lazy and sloppy. One day when Zack gets home from school, I let him know that he will not have access to his games, screens or be allowed to play on the trampoline until his room is cleaned to my specifications. Whether that takes one day or a month is up to Zack. However, until he does what he is told, he won’t be doing much more than eating, doing school work, and sleeping.
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.