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Discipline Help!

Logical Consequences


The gist of this strategy: The punishment should fit the crime. If your preschooler deliberately tracks mud in the house, he should help you clean it up. But does it work?

Pieper: Many parents think logical consequences teach children a lesson: If your kid refuses to put on his snow boots, then he can't play when you're outside. I say, be prepared and bring the snow boots along with you.

If your child shoves his friend out of the way so he can have a toy, you can say, "You can't push. Let's try and find something else you'd like to do." Offering an alternative shows kids they can't always get what they want, but they can always have a relationship with you. This is what they value most anyway.

The more you can regulate a child's behavior in a positive way, the more he'll imitate you.

Dr. Neifert: Besides teaching a child that life is logical, consequences remind him that his actions determine the outcome. You can reinforce this by giving him choices whenever possible. Say things like, "Do you want to put your toys away now, or should I put them in the off-limits basket, where you can't play with them until tomorrow?"

Just don't give warnings you can't carry out. If your kids are bickering at the airport and waiting to board the plane, don't say, "If you don't stop, we won't go see Grandma."

Dr. Sears: Life has consequences: What happens when you break the speed limit? The policeman doesn't have a nice little chat with you. He gives you a ticket. Discipline is about giving your kids guidelines so they can control themselves, about giving them the tools to succeed in the real world.

Lerner: If your child draws on the walls, you can tell him the crayons have to go away, but then you should give him a second chance: After 15 minutes or so, give the crayons back, and follow up with positive reinforcement for his not drawing on the wall this time. If you praise kids for doing the right thing, they'll end up with a feeling of mastery.