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Lesson 8: How Much Consequence Is Needed?


You Don’t Have To Shoot The ComputerTo Teach Your
Daughter a Lesson

Many of you have, no doubt, seen the video of the angry father shooting his daughter’s computer with his 45.  At last check, the YouTube video had 26 million views.

It’s interesting how most folks come down strongly, on one side or the other.  I find myself coming down strong on BOTH sides of the issue…not just one.  Let me explain, as this a perfect example to jump into for our next lesson.

Why Consequences Fail To Work!

First, we can all sympathize with this dad, whose daughter posted an angry, disrespectful and profane post on her Facebook page about her parents.  Most of us would be angry and frustrated.

However, this dad appears to make several common, yet major mistakes in using consequences.  These mistakes only serve to promote more anger and a lack of discipline in children.

We Fail To Expect Children To Try To Cheat:

Apparently, his daughter had previously been inappropriate on Facebook.  He then set a limit on her use of Facebook by banning her.  However, he had no clear system in place.  In other words, he told her she was off of Facebook, but did not have a ‘system’ in place to ensure his words were honored.

In my world of dealing with challenging children and teens, I EXPECT them to try to find ways around parental limits.  I EXPECT them to try to cheat the system…so to speak.  Why?  Because this is the nature of a challenging child.  I have to plan for this.

We Don’t Understand That Consequences Should Teach…NOT Punish.

If we find our children doing something inappropriate, consequences are needed.  However, if you take something away for three months, this is like an eternity to a child or teen.

Once you do this, they go into anger mode…instead of a learning mode.  As they do so, they begin to work harder and harder at proving “Mom” or “Dad” is stupid…and will do everything in their power to get around the consequence.

This works against you, as you promote anger in children with harsh, extreme and reactive consequences.

Instead, consequences should be set up to be teach…not punish.  The secret to this is having thought things out in advance, and have already pre-determined a response to most choices.  While the options may seem endless, they really aren’t!

We Don’t Appreciate That Angry Consequences Bring Angry Behavior.

When we get ‘hooked’ by our child’s behavior, whether disrespect, not listening or defiance, we often get caught in an angry knee-jerk reaction.  This is NOT good.

In fact, it’s almost always bad over the long term because our anger ends up teaching our children to choose anger in the face of frustration.   “When Dad doesn’t get what he wants, it’s okay to yell, or use profanity…or even pull out a gun to teach a lesson.”  The silent part of this message is this:  “Sweetheart, please watch carefully as I am teaching you right now how to handle your frustration…when life doesn’t give you what you want.”

In other words, if we react to not getting what we want…we must expect our children to ‘react’ when not getting what they want.  If we react with anger, they learn to react with anger.

More on consequences can be found at www.TerrificParenting.com, as well as in next week’s column on choosing the right consequence.  Until then, have a great week.