Delay Consequences

By Wayne Russell

When your child does something wrong, do you assign a consequence immediately? Funny enough, you do not have to dish out the consequence immediately following the misbehavior. There is no need to interrupt your grocery shopping or drop everything you are doing at home.

Consider the following dialogue I had with our daughter a few days ago after we repeatedly asked her not to hit a toy against our coffee table:

"This kind of behavior is not acceptable in this house. I'm going to have to do something about it. I don't know what it will be because I'm busy with preparing supper right now. I'll let you know what I decide after supper tonight. Don't worry about it."

This dialogue immediately stopped the misbehavior. Here are the many benefits of delaying the consequence:

  • You buy yourself time to think of an appropriate natural consequence instead of quickly assigning a generic punishment.  You have time to discuss consequences with your spouse as well.
  • You have time to cool off to avoid speaking out in frustration or anger.
  • The child will most likely be in a better emotional state when you share the consequence.
  • You can get back to what you are busy doing quicker i.e., cooking dinner, bathing your other child.
  • You play a little reverse psychology with your child. That last line in the dialogue ("Don't worry about it.") will have the reverse effect.  It will cause your child to think, possibly worry, about what the consequence will be.
  • VERY IMPORTANT: You have to follow-though with sharing the consequence. If not, you loose your credibility and your talk becomes cheap.

Make it a great day or not, the choice is yours!

Pick up a copy of any Love and Logic parenting resource. You will not be disappointed! We enjoy this one.