How Do You Teach Responsibility to Children?
All families have 2 common goals with regard to DISCIPLINE, they want their kids to:
- Learn the difference between right and wrong
- Learn accountability & take responsibility for their actions
Punishment vs. negative consequence: What is the difference between natural consequences and punishment?
When a child makes a mistake, most parents resort to some form of punishment. Such as, taking away toys, time-outs, yelling, or threats of ‘taking away all privileges’. That kind of response ends up punishing the child, instead of focusing on behavior change.
Ask yourself this question first:
Do I want to create a happy kid who learns about accountability and responsibility through learning from his/her mistakes, while feeling hopeful and empowered to make better decisions?
OR… do I want a fearful kid who grows up angry and rebellious in the face of responsibility and ends up feeling insecure about making any decisions?
If you want a happy and responsible kid, then read on…
Punishment takes away HOPE
The punished child often feels like a bad person (when in fact, he/she may be a very good kid who made a very poor choice). The child becomes more focused on not getting punished and not getting caught making a mistake!
On the other hand, when a child faces the negative consequences of his/her own actions, they learn a very valuable lesson about accountability and how not to make that mistake in the future.
For example, your 8-yr-old son refuses to eat dinner, despite the offer of delicious treats for dessert. You have calmly reminded him: “First eat your dinner, then you earn dessert.” But he chooses not to try the lasagna that you have spent 2 hours preparing, then he asks for dessert.
You calmly say, “Son, you chose not to have dessert. I told you to eat your dinner first, then you would earn dessert. By not eating dinner, you didn’t earn dessert tonight. I hope you try again tomorrow to have dessert after eating your dinner.” –there is hope for tomorrow & please note the wording.
How do natural consequences work?
- By teaching the kids that they are accountable for their actions
- By providing direct (or indirect) cause-and-effect connection between the child’s actions and the results of those actions
- By providing a lesson they can implement and use successfully in the near future
- By empowering the child to make a better decision next time, because the kid has not lost hope in the process. This factor is very important and one of the most significant differences between natural consequences and punishment.
Is it all in the wording?
No… The key to your success in raising responsible kids is not just in the wording. First, it is in appreciating the power of negative consequences and giving more responsibility to your kids. Then, your success relies on your attitude, approach, tone of voice and having faith in your kids!
I am available to do Parent Education Workshops, either Private or PTA Sponsored Classes. Contact me at 425-772-6698.
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