On consequences

A consequence is what results when a rule is broken. For example; your son leaves the hammer in the rain-he loses the privilege to use it the next time. If there is no consequence following a broken rule, the child learns that rules can be broken and therefore don't need to be followed.

If the consequence is not attached to the child's behavior, it is not really a consequence. It is a punishment. For example; your son leaves the hammer in the rain-he loses TV for a week. (Losing TV has nothing to do with the hammer.)

Children learn a very important lesson by having consequences attached to their behavior. They learn that they can begin to take responsibility for their actions and that what happens to them is under their control.

Consequences are most effective when caregivers follow these simple guidelines:

Whenever possible, be sure the child understands ahead of time that certain behaviors will carry a consequence.
Before imposing a consequence, give the child a chance to correct his behavior.
The consequence should be related to the broken rule.
The consequence should guide the child in making a better choice the next time.

Rules and Expectations
Children need and want clear limits or boundaries, even though they may sometimes fight against them. Rules, expectations, and limits provide structure, but they need to be specific because when kids don't clearly understand what's expected of them, it can lead to conflict.

Setting family rules:
  • Keep rules simple and easy to understand.
  • Keep the number of family rules low.
  • Repeat the rules often.

Establish what happens when rules are broken.
  • Have "Do" rules as well as "Don't" rules.
  • Change the rules as kids change and grow.

Expect that all members of the family respect and follow the rules. Make sure the rules are ones that really matter. For example:
  • Treat everyone respectfully.
  • Listen to each other
  • No name-calling or put-downs.
  • Absolutely no hitting, punching or slapping.
  • Everyone puts away their personal property.
  • No yelling.
  • Ask yourself some questions before you ask the child to do anything.
  • Is what I'm asking a child to do reasonable?
  • Is it something a child can do by himself or does he need a helping hand?
  • Can my expectation be clearly stated?
  • Have I given a child a chance to voice his feelings or wishes?


Funding for this program provided by the Department of Health and Human Services