5 Days of Insight From Motivate Your Child: The "Toolbox of Consequences"

I’ve been sharing this week some of the things I’ve learned from the book Motivate Your Child by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller. You can find the landing page with links to each of the posts as well as links to the book and my review here. In today’s post, I’m sharing some of the great information I’ve been learning about consequences.

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One of my favorite things about the book Motivate Your Child is that there is much practical advice in it. So many parenting books have good theory, good ideas; but when it really comes down to it, there isn’t something practical to take away. Throughout Motivate Your Child I found lots of good, practical take aways. This was especially true when I read about consequences. The book goes into detail talking about why consequences are important, what consequences to use, and how to use them. Here are some of my favorite take away points.
* The goal of consequences ultimately isn’t to change behavior. It’s to change the heart. I know I’m guilty of throwing out a punishment and thinking it worked if the behavior stopped. I don’t always take the time to consider whether or not a heart change has occurred.
I’ve also fallen into the every consequence has to be fair trap. So if Child A got this consequence for arguing, Child B needs the same consequence. But this really isn’t true. The authors point out “Tailoring a plan for each child will consider specific needs and challenges, resulting in more effective parenting strategies.” And I know from own experience with four children that every one is different and responds differently. The authors refer to your “toolbox of consequences” and encourage parents not to just use only one or two tools but to try various tools to fit the child and the situation. This is a good reminder because I know I’m tempted to fall back on the same thing every time. (If you read yesterday’s post, you’ll know I often fall back on “the lecture.”)
The book gives five important facts about consequences which include the idea that consequences are only a part of the bigger plan; the goal of correction should be training, not justice; discipline requires patience and firmness; consequences should clarify the line between right and wrong for kids; and using consequences requires strategy. The one that really stood out to me was the one about training, not justice- “Some parents have a ‘chart mentality’ when it comes to discipline. ‘You did this, so you deserve that.’ This kind of approach rarely touches a child’s heart.” Wow! That one made me think.

 * Different types of consequences are effective in different situations. My husband is one who is really good at thinking of creative consequences that match the offense. He’s always been better at this than I am. We’ve always tried to have a consequence that made sense in light of what the child had done. The authors of the book break up consequences into several main categories.
Natural consequences are the things that happen naturally because of what the child did. Sometimes it would be dangerous or unreasonable to just let the natural consequence happen, so the next category is logical consequences. Logical consequences are consequences that fit with what the child did. Another category the authors mention is loss of privilege. This consequence helps to equate responsibilities and privileges and to emphasize that when kids take responsibility they earn more privilege. More parental control is another kind of consequence a child may need. Having mom or dad stay close by can encourage kids to have the right behavior. The last category that the authors mention is practicing the right thing. This is one I often overlook, but it can be important to have kids practice doing the right thing instead of what they were doing.

This quote from the book sums up the purpose of these consequences well- “The goal of an external consequence is to build internal motivation to change.”
Consequences can be an important tool in helping kids to learn to do the right thing. In the next post, I’ll share some insight from the book into helping kids make the right choices even when they are away from you.
Have you been reading Motivate Your Child? I’d love to hear things that are standing out to you in the comments.

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