Have you had to levy a consequence that you knew was going to cause an uproar with your child, but did not know how else to phrase it? This usually happens when you have to apply a consequence because the student did not meet an obligation, meaning she loses access to something she dearly loves because she failed to meet some responsibility.
At our house, taking away access to video games, grounding people on Friday night, or denying participation in some social gathering would cause problems. But, as parents that is what we had to do!
Let’s think about this dilemma another way. A person who works on commission and does not make that sales call did not “lose the commission;” he failed to “earn the commission.” Try adopting the phrase “earned the privilege” or “did not earn the privilege” when applying consequences for failing to deal with a responsibility. For example, to earn the privilege of going out on Friday night, the student has to turn in all his homework assignments for that week. If he turned in all his assignments, he “earned the privilege” of going out on Friday. If the student is missing an assignment, he “did not earn the privilege” of going out on Friday.
Access to video games is a privilege that can be earned by finishing homework, reading for 20 minutes, or getting everything together that will go to school the next day. If the child does not meet her responsibility, she did not “lose” the video game; she failed to earn access to it. Having a cell phone might depend on meeting certain conditions such as using appropriate language in texts and emails, and putting the cell phone away during homework and at night. Parents would check the content of the cell phone on a regular basis. What the parent finds on the phone determines if the student continues to have the privilege of using a cell phone for the next week.
Get in the habit of remarking that the student “earned the privilege of ….” when he has met a responsibility. Use the language, “You did not earn the privilege of …,” if the student failed to meet a responsibility that would give access to some desired activity. He did not “lose” the activity; he failed to earn it!
I’d love to hear your experience with applying consequences for behavior – what has worked for you and what hasn’t worked so well?
Blogger Mary Ann Mulcahey, PhD, shares her expertise in assessment and diagnosis of learning disabilities and ADHD, and the social/emotional adjustment to those issues. If you have questions, please contact Mary Ann at .