Breaking the Rules And Lying:
Lessons Learned All Around
Several factors come into play when a child lies or breaks the rules. There are also several consequences to be given. However, there is a certain way to give the consequence and a certain way for the child to learn their lesson. Also, one thing to consider is why the child lies. The consequences also have to be clear and focused on what the real problem was and why she did what she did. The child may be wrong and will have to learn their lesson but there is a way to do it too. Firstly, a consequence is something that follows naturally from a person’s action, inaction or poor decision. It differs from a punishment in that a punishment is retribution. Punishment is “getting back” at someone, to hurt him or her back for a hurt they did. When you get a speeding ticket, it’s not a retribution for something you did wrong. It’s a consequence of your poor choices and decisions. When you’re giving a child a consequence, it’s important to make it flow naturally from the child’s choice or action. For example, if your son sleeps late and doesn’t get up for school, the natural consequence is to go to bed earlier that night to get more sleep. The natural consequence isn’t to take his phone for a week. Tell him he has to go to bed early for the next three nights, and then if he can show you he can get up for school, you’ll go back to the later bedtime. It’s also important to make the consequence task-oriented, not time-oriented. A time-oriented consequence is when you tell your child he’s grounded for a week or can’t use his cell phone for two weeks. It’s ineffective because all it does is teach kids how to “do time.” It does not teach them how to change their behavior. "Making your daughter stay in for three weekends won’t teach her to observe curfew. It just puts you and your family through grief and the child learns nothing." A task-oriented consequence is related to the offense and defines a learning objective. If your child stayed out past curfew last week, this weekend, she has to come in an hour earlier to show you that she can do it. When she shows you she can do it, you can go back to her normal curfew time. Making her stay in for three weekends won’t teach her to observe curfew. It just puts you and your family through the grief and the child learns nothing. The best consequences are those from which the child learns something. If your son is disrespectful to his sister, a good consequence is to tell him he can’t use the phone until he writes her a letter of apology. In the letter, he has to tell her what he’ll do differently the next time he’s in conflict with her. Writing the letter of apology is a learning experience for him that wins him back his phone. That way, he’s not just “doing time.” He’s completing an act that teaches him something. I think parents have to be very clear about consequences, especially the older kids get. By “older,” I mean the difference between six and eight and then eight and ten. I’m not talking about the difference between eight and eighteen. The older kids get, the more thought they have to put into the consequence. So if a kid’s grade drops because he’s not doing his homework, yes you take his TV. But you take it until the teacher tells you that he’s been doing his homework for two weeks. Or until the teacher tells you he’s brought his grades back up to a “B”. Secondly, let’s face it. Information isn’t just available to our kids; it’s injected into them. Their peers, by some adults, and by the media, push bad ideas down our kid’s throats. It’s hard for a parent to keep control of their kids when this is happening and protect them from their own harmful impulses and dangerous outside influences. Your kid’s honesty becomes the connector between what’s happening to her on the outside world and what happens at home. You need her to tell you honestly what happened today, so that you can honestly decide if that’s best for her. You need to...
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