More and more parents are aware of the impact of punishment on children and are committed to a reprimand-free upbringing.
However, just as an overly punitive upbringing can profoundly impact children’s emotional development, implementing permissive parenting also has adverse long-term effects.
Not correcting the behavior of the little ones and allowing them to do whatever they want can give way to insecure and shy children who are afraid to make their own decisions because they are not sure how to behave or, in other cases, stimulate the appearance of rebellious, violent behavior, and narcissism as a result of frustration and excess of freedom.
Therefore, finding the right way to correct children’s behavior and teach them to identify limits and follow the rules early is crucial. An excellent way to achieve this is by replacing the usual punishments with an explanation of the consequences of their actions.
Why is It a Good Idea to Replace Punishments With Consequences?
If we don’t go to school, we don’t learn. It will be dirty and disorganized if we don’t clean the house. If we mistreat a pet, he will not want to approach us.
All behavior has consequences; the sooner children learn this, the better. Unlike punishments, which are imposed, punitive, and often disproportionate, consequences result from any act.
Therefore, instead of punishing children, we highlight the consequences of their actions. We prepare them for the future, making them aware that everything they do will directly affect their environment and the people around them.
Explaining the consequences to children can become an excellent educational resource since, in addition to explaining how the natural cycle of life works, they help us correct their inappropriate behavior.
It also stimulates their emotional sensitivity and develops empathy early on, enhancing their analysis and reflection capacity. In addition, since it is an immediate and proportionate response to the behavior to be corrected, it does not affect the self-esteem or emotional stability of the children.
Keys to Explaining to Children the Consequences of Their Actions
All our actions have consequences, regardless of our will. These are known as natural consequences. However, when those consequences are used for educational purposes to teach children, they become logical.
The difference is that the logical consequences have the intervention of an adult, who is in charge of highlighting and explaining to the children the effects of their behaviors.
However, contrary to what many parents think, using logical consequences to educate children is not limited to highlighting the effects of children’s behaviors.
It is also essential to consider other aspects for this resource to be truly effective. In this sense, the logical consequences must:
Be Related to the Behavior to Be Corrected
Every act has consequences, but if our goal is to use that effect to correct inappropriate behavior, we must ensure that the logical consequence is directly linked to that behavior and not influenced by other factors.
A good strategy is to highlight the consequences immediately to avoid being confused with other behaviors.
Address the Causes of the Problem
Most of the time, there is a cause behind children’s inappropriate behavior, and until we address it, it will be difficult to eradicate that behavior.
Therefore, if you use logical consequences to highlight an adverse reaction, ensure it relates to the behavior’s motives.
Reconcile With the Child Beforehand
Explaining to children what consequences are and what they can learn from them is essential so they can later associate them with their behavior.
In this way, they will not be surprised when you highlight the effects of their behavior, but they will be more aware of them.
Be Respectful With the Little Ones
Children must learn that their actions have consequences, but these should never go beyond the limits of mutual respect. In no case should humiliation, insults, or displays of violence be resorted to highlighting childish behavior effects.
Be Proportionate to the Behavior to Be Corrected
Consequences should also be proportional to the behavior to be corrected. In this way, not only will they have a more significant effect, but they will serve as a guide for children to regulate their behavior, taking into account its effect on their environment.
How Do Replace Punishments With Consequences? 3 Practical Examples
Replacing disproportionate punishments with logical consequences is not tricky. Still, it does require practice, patience, and effort from parents.
Initially, it is normal to doubt how to use consequences to educate children, so we leave you with some practical examples to explain how to replace punishments with consequences.
Faced With an Inadequate or Misplaced Response
Sometimes children react harshly, calling you names or responding inappropriately. In these cases, you can use consequences to determine their behavior’s effect.
For example, instead of sending him to his room as a punishment, you can say, “Now I’m angry with you, your words have hurt me, and I need to be alone for a while to forget what happened. Please leave me alone for a while, and when I am calmer, we will talk.”
On Deaf Ears
Many children turn a deaf ear when we ask them to clean their room, do their homework, or do any other activity they do not like.
It is reasonably typical behavior and can be corrected by highlighting its consequences. For example, in this case, you can say to your child: “I asked you several times to pick up your room; you have wasted the whole morning, and you have not done it, so now we will not be able to go out to the park anymore because you will have to spend that time organize your toys.
Given the Excessive Use of Screens
Today, most children enjoy spending time in front of a screen, which is why more than one ignores the limits set by their parents. Suppose this has happened to you; instead of resorting to punishment and taking away the child’s mobile or tablet. In that case, you can bet on highlighting the consequences of their actions.
You can tell him: “You have spent more time than we had agreed with the mobile. You have broken my trust in you, so from now on, I will be more aware of your activity with your mobile.
And, since you have exceeded the time we had established, tomorrow, instead of spending two hours on the phone, we will subtract the additional half-hour you used today.”
Using educational consequences as a tool in child-rearing is a highly effective way to improve children’s behavior. It is a non-violent way to teach children right from wrong and help them develop good habits.
It is important to remember that consequences should be fair, logical, consistent, and tailored to the child’s age and development. With patience and practice, parents can use educational consequences to help their children become responsible, respectful, and productive members of society.
- Empowering Parents: How to Give Kids Consequences That Work
- PubMed: Behavior Modification
- Responsive Classroom: Punishment vs. Logical Consequences
- Very Well Mind: Punishment in Psychology: Punishment vs. Reinforcement