Choices and Consequences

Your response to negative behavior can bring positive results

If your kids are in elementary school, by now you've given literally hundreds of negative consequences. That's a lot of groundings, time-outs, and early bedtimes. Not to mention headaches. And what's worse is that you've got hundreds more still to give. So, if you're stuck dealing out negative consequences, you might as well get the most out of them.

The purpose of a negative consequence is to teach your children that a different option would've been better. You don't want them to conclude mistakenly that they will benefit from negative behavior. As Galatians 6:7 reminds us, "A man reaps what he sows." You want your children to learn that obeying God and treating others respectfully works out the best. Anything else is a bust.

When Johnny doesn't listen to you (or whatever other negative behavior you'd like to insert), keep in mind that this was not an accident. It was a choice. Johnny made this choice, hoping that it would bring a positive result.

But alas for Johnny—you want him to learn that his negative choice will never bring a positive result. Instead, Johnny must learn that bad choices provoke consequences from you that will be: 1. negative, 2. quick, and 3. consistent. Let's look at each of these in order.

1. Negative. If Johnny's poor behavior works out well, then he will conclude that it was a good idea and be certain to try it again. By providing an immediate redirection or an effective negative consequence in a calm way (such as a time-out or loss of privilege), you help Johnny realize that his behavior did not bring the desired result and instead lost him a valuable privilege. The end result (from Johnny's point of view): bad.

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