Establishing Consequences | Teaching Self-Government

Establishing Consequences

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Son won't listen to his parents
So far, we've had a family meeting to talk about our vision as a family.  We planned our party for 20 years from now and the kids really caught onto it.  We taught the 4 basic skills and the kids had a lot of fun role-playing the way to respond to the different situations, they especially loved disagreeing appropriately! :)  Well, I hadn't determined what our consequences were going to be yet so I told them we would just practice the 4 basic skills this week.  I've learned from this that it is essential to have consequences established or there is no motivation to respond correctly.  I'm at a loss for what consequences to give that won't punish me.  I like the "big whammy" you do of losing privileges for 24 hours but I don't know how to keep them busy working and not playing.  I'm also not sure what to do for the minor and major offenses.  I think your first consequence was a chore.  I heard you mention "major maintenances" like cleaning the garage but I can't imagine my 6-year-old being able to do something like that.  I don't even know how to do that! :)  Any suggestions on consequences that have been effective for others?

Sounds like you started out good, but you didn't have all your paint supplies out before you tried to paint your picture.  This happens to people all the time.  It is so tempting to see if the new system will really work before everything is ready to implement.

Your system is like really good strawberries.  If you don't nourish strawberries long before it's harvest time, they will ripen, but they will be small and not as useful.  But, if you nourish the strawberry plants before the berries start to form, then the berries grow larger and feed many more people.  Luckily we aren't really berries.  We can go back and fix things. 

Have a couple's meeting with your husband and decide on your consequences, as well as talk your system out.  Review the vision, plan meeting times, and discuss teaching language and what consequences are.  Next, go to your children review everything you already did.  Explain that you need to review, because now that you have decided upon your consequences, you are ready to follow through with the new system, and you want them to be successful.  Make the practice short.  They won't want to take a lot of time again. 

You said that you are at a loss for what consequences won't punish you.  It is so good that you are aware that you shouldn't use consequences that punish you.  No one should be punished. 

Let me clarify something.  Every time a child makes a wrong decision and we have to teach to that decision and tell them what consequence they chose to earn, it will be inconvenient.  There is no way around that.  We never want to take time out of our days to correct behaviors.  Don't let being inconvenienced be a punishment.  An example of a punishment is; your child acts up at a party, so you tell him that he has to stay in the car.  This would mean that you would have to stay in the car too in order to keep him safe.  This would be you punishing you and him. 

If your system is set up, you shouldn't need to worry about being punished, because you just follow your system, which you already made sure doesn't punish you. 

Extra chores should help you, not hurt you.  If the child hasn't done the particular chore before and you really want them to do it, then you will have to teach them how to do the chore just like any other time.  If you don't want to teach them a new chore, then stick to giving them chores they already know how to do, and teach them new ones at other times. 

My six year old does her own laundry.  I know children are all different, but don't underestimate what they can do.  Cleaning out the garage wouldn't be given to my six year old though.  Six year olds can still go to time-out.  In the past, for my six year old, I used time-out as her first consequence if she was out of instructional control, so that she could have a place to get back into control.  Second, I used an extra chore.  And the biggest one she got was 24 hours with no privileges.  I now use this system for my four year old. 

My usual system now for my six year old's "out of instructional control behavior" is: First, an extra chore.  Second, problem solving exercises (SODAS).  Last, 24 hours with no privileges. 

24 Hours with no privileges inconveniences me a little bit, but I know that it will most likely not happen again with this child, because they know that I follow through with our family system, and that they are really choosing to hurt themselves if they choose to be "out of instructional control."  Since I know this, I can choose not to get to attached to that 24 hours.  Also, if a child looses privileges for 24 hours, your house should get really clean; especially if the child doesn't learn to control his own behaviors after the first of second day of no privileges.  This should help you do other more enjoyable things with your time.  If you really need a break from no privileges, plan a short family activity to give everyone some "down time."  If you feel like you need "down time" all the time, then your family might need to work on discipline.

For minor things like not following instructions or not saying OK to a no answer etc, my children simply earn an extra chore. On trips, etc, we often use loss of snack privilege for minor offenses.  Trips usually have lots of snacks.  I have always believed that old saying, "Sweets for the sweet." 

You could choose anything that is a privlige which motivates your children; alone time, play time, computer time, allowance etc.  Remember that list of motivators we made for each child?  Pull that out and see what you can use off of that list if you don't like using chores. 

The one thing about chores is they are work.  And, work builds character.  People usually choose wrong choices because their character has a flaw in it.  Since work helps repair and build character, I use if for our family's most common consequence. 

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