What to Do When Consequences Don’t Work

Very often consequences are just punishments in disguise, or at the very least, unpleasant power plays that take away a child’s sense of capability, well-being and trust. Instead of helping and inviting cooperation, consequences are more often than not used in a way that chips away at your relationship with your child. 

If chosen well, sometime consequences can help your child learn and make better behavior choices. The wrong kind of consequences just don’t motivate children to behave well. Your child might actually feel discouraged or so frustrated that their behavior gets worse instead of better. 

Things to try when no consequence seems to work: 

1. Know that you are not alone: 

This isn’t really something to try, but something that’s just a relief to know.  There are many parents who are struggling to find an effective consequence for their child.  You are not alone.  Strong-willed children are a joy and a challenge to raise.  One of those challenges is finding something that does work for your child. 

If you have a child with anxiety, depression, or trauma they may not respond as well to consequences.  We recommend you try the ideas below.  If you continue to not see change, seek a competent professional to help you and your family. 

2. Customize consequences to your specific child. 

Discipline is not a one size fits all. Each child is born with different strengths, weaknesses, temperaments, and motivations.  Therefore, you will need to customize your approach with each child.  The process of customizing does include some trial and error.  That can feel really frustrating and take some time.  However, if you stick with the process, you will eventually find something that works. 

When testing out different consequences, you need to try it CONSISTENTLY and for at least a couple of weeks before you adjust and try something different. 

3. Try some rewards, but not the typical reward you’re thinking of. 

Sometimes when we’re working on extinguishing negative behaviors, we get too focused on ONLY negative behaviors. If a child feels like their parents don’t see any good in them, it can lead to more negative behaviors.  Our kids need us to tell them what they are doing well.  Do a quick self-evaluation.  Are you pointing out at least 5-10 things each of your kids do well each day? 

4. Try at home play therapy to help your child feel more connected to you. 

Children generally behave better when they feel connected to their parents.   At home play therapy is a heavily researched way to connect deeply and quickly with our kids of ALL ages. 

It helps your child feel special to you and SEEN by you.  It also helps your child feel safe showing you what’s important to them.  That creates a special bond between you and the child. 

Play therapy also helps parents.  During the play therapy session, you get to just enjoy your child.  You don’t have to tell them what to do or what not to do.  You aren’t focused on their negative behavior.  Rather, you just get to see how beautiful they are.  It’s also kind of relaxing.  Grown-ups don’t take a lot of time to just relax and be in the present.  This allows you to do just that. 

5. Learn about more options 

Know that there is something that works for each child you just might not have found it yet.  You may need some extra tools from a professional or from another parent you trust. 

Imagine that you are trying to build a house using only a screw driver.  That would be a challenging experience.  It would be easier if you had a screw driver, a hammer, a saw, etc.  The same is true of parenting.  You may be working really hard at trying to find a consequence that works, but you may need someone to give you some additional tools, tools you’ve never thought of before.  Needing additional tools doesn’t make you a bad parent.  In fact, we think that seeking out tools makes you a great parent!  Wouldn’t it be nice to have a tool belt full of options? 

6. Think about what motivates your child. 

Some consequences don’t work because they are too small and the child doesn’t care about it.  On the other hand, some consequences don’t work because they are so extreme that the child loses hope and motivation.  The best consequences are big enough to motivate the child to not misbehave, but small enough that the child isn’t in trouble all the time. 

Coach Benjamin Mizrahi. Educator. Learning Specialist. Family Coach. Father. Husband.   

More articles on www.MrMizrahi.blog 

Learn How to Break the Ignore-Nag-Punish-Yell Cycle

There are good ways to discipline a child with ADHD. Nagging, yelling, and punishing are not among them. 

Parenting a child with ADHD can challenge a parent’s patience — and good judgment. Just like all kids sometimes make bad choices regarding their own behavior, parents can make bad decisions disciplining this misbehavior. Instead of using firm and compassionate approaches, parents of kids with ADHD are often driven into the ignore-nag-yell-punish cycle. Sound familiar? Try these child discipline strategies to break that cycle once and for all. 

💟 Do: Get Involved, Quickly 

Quickly move people or objects to prevent bad behavior. For example, if your children start quarreling over a toy, you might say, “Alex, sit over there. Maria, stand here. I’ll take this and put it up here.” Similarly, if your child comes in from outside for supper and refuses to wash his hands before eating, immediately take his plate off the table and silently point to his hands. 

💟 Don’t: Ignore Your Child’s Misbehavior 

You should respond to your child’s behavior, when it’s good and bad. Otherwise, your child may read your silence as “I won’t give you my attention or concern” or even “I reject you.” She might also assume that your silence means you approve of what she is doing — even when you don’t. 

💟 Do: Be Brief 

Keep your words to a minimum when disciplining. Some of the best parenting advice that can be given is summed up in the following statement: The fewer words you use to discipline your child with ADHD, the more effective (and heard) they will be. Tell your child once, very clearly, what you expect of him. Then stop talking. 

💟Don’t: Be a Chatterbox 

It’s important that you don’t go on and on about what your child is doing wrong. Words are like tires: Each time they rotate against the pavement, they lose tread, and become less efficient at starting, stopping, and steering. Eventually, they will have no “traction” at all — as tires will eventually become bald. 

💟 Do: Keep Calm 

Don’t let your own anger get the best of you. Tell yourself that you won’t open your mouth until you’re calm enough to speak at a normal volume and in a cordial tone. To calm down, spend a few minutes alone — something as simple as excusing yourself to get a glass of water may do the trick. 

💟 Don’t: Shout 

Try not to bark orders like a drill sergeant. Yelling shows a child that you, the almighty parent, have lost control. Shouting also opens up the door to your child to return the favor and to yell back. 

💟 Do: Punish Fairly 

Use appropriate punishment when responding to a misbehavior. The consequence for spilling milk might be that your child cleans up the mess, and then pours another glass and sets it in a safer place on the table. No reason to blame or yell at him, or even withhold food from him. 

💟 Don’t: Overdo It 

It’s important that you don’t go overboard with punishment. In most cases, harsh punishments, like spanking, encourage children with ADHD to become sneaky so as not to get caught next time. They may even cause your child to doubt your love for him — something you want to avoid at all costs. 

Coach Benjamin Mizrahi. Educator. Learning Specialist. Family Coach. Father. Husband.   

More articles on www.MrMizrahi.blog