I have been asked a question quite often and that is what do I do if my child does not listen. So that got me thinking and I thought of writing this article.
A mum says to her child that you need to get dressed now as we are going to get late to school. The child takes his/her own sweet time, messes around which makes the mum impatient. She struggles and threatens the child that she will take them to school in their pyjamas. She tells her child, “you need to get dressed now, or you will have to wear pyjamas to school”.
Another example is mum saying to the child “eat now or you will have to go to school without breakfast” still felt like more of a threat than a natural consequence.
Looking at the above examples parents may have used these threats with their children , but have you ever followed that through?
Threats that we give to our children are mostly empty and cruel.
They do nothing more than teaching our children to feel scared of us but do not help them learn a constructive way to problem solve and understand how behaviour is related to consequences.
If we can teach our children that there will be natural and logical consequences to irrational behaviour then they are more to learn from it.
A natural consequence is one that happens to the child without the parent being involved. For example “letting the child explain to the school why they were late”. A child refusing to wear a jacket will bear the natural consequences of feeling cold.
A logical consequence on the other hand is when it is logically agreed with what the child has done wrong but is not described as a punishment. This helps the child understand their behaviour, learn how to develop self-control and learn that they have to follow some rules. It also helps them learn how not to do that behaviour again. This however does involve a clear outline of boundaries that the parent sets after discussion with the child and child has a clear understanding of what is expected of him/her and the consequences involved if these are not observed. For example, if a child does not eat their healthy meal, then the consequence is that the parent cannot serve them dessert. It is logical and connected to the action. However, not getting desert because the child did not clean his/her room is a punishment.
In giving consequences consistency and following through then are key. A large number of parents are not consistent. If you are not holding the boundaries, in the same way, every time, your child will not be able to believe you. They begin to think that if they cry hard enough, push back long enough, you will give them what they want.
“Parenting with natural consequences takes a lot of time, a lot of conversations with your kids and a lot of faith that they will eventually develop the skills on their own to identify natural consequences and the attendant risk and reward,” says Ken Strzelecki, a leading paediatrician. “But every once in a while, an appropriate threat prevents unacceptable harms and challenges a child to develop in a different way.”
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