Choosing an Appropriate Consequence
Following through with your discipline is much easier when the consequences are appropriate. Don’t make the punishment so severe that it is too difficult for both you and your child to bear.
In a fit of anger, you might say “You are not going to the prom next week!” when in reality the offense was too minor to warrant such a severe consequence. If necessary, take time to cool down and think about an appropriate punishment. Consequences should be a natural outcome from the misbehavior.
For instance, a child who mistreats a toy or does not put it away may face the consequence of losing the right to play with that toy. A child who watches television and neglects her homework may lose her television privileges for a day or more. Children who are late coming home or who go somewhere they are not supposed to may find themselves “grounded” the next time they want to go out.
Also, don’t “nit pick.” Use consequences for only the serious offenses. Correcting a child for wiping his face on his sleeve, for example, can best be handled with timely reminders. Punishing children for the smallest of misbehaviors will eventually damage their self-esteem – they may feel that “I can’t do anything right.”