Have you ever had to dole out a consequence that you knew was going to cause an uproar in your house, but did not know how else to phrase it?
It's not any parent's favorite part of the job. But we all face times we need to apply a consequence because our child did not follow through on an obligation. Meaning they lose access to something they dearly love because they failed to meet a responsibility.
At our house, taking away access to video games, grounding people on Friday night, or denying participation in some social gathering was very unpleasant for everyone! As parents, that is our job.
Is there another way to apply a consequence that won’t cause such a fracas?
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”; they 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. So, for example, to earn the privilege of going out on Friday night the student has to turn in all their homework assignments for that week. They turned in all their assignments, they “earned the privilege” of going out on Friday. The student is missing an assignment, they “did not earn the privilege” of going out on Friday.
Here are some more examples of how this method can be applied.
Access to video games is another 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 their responsibility, they did not “lose” the video game; they failed to earn access to it.
Having a cell phone depends on meeting certain conditions such as: having appropriate language or content in texts, emails and photos and putting the cell phone away during homework and bedtime. 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 a certain amount of time.
Get in the habit of remarking that the student “earned the privilege of ….”, when they have met a responsibility. Use the language, “You did not earn the privilege of …” if the student failed to meet the responsibility that would give access to some desired activity. They did not “lose” the activity, they failed to earn it!