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Real Consequences for Children's Bad Behavior

By Jeremi Davidson ; Updated June 13, 2017

Shaping your child's behavior is a difficult job, as you must walk a fine line between permitting your child to learn for herself and keeping her safe. Allowing real consequences to occur when your child acts poorly shows her how the world operates and lets her know that she cannot get away with certain behaviors. Although you will want to protect your child, providing consequences can help prevent poor behavior in the future, according to the Ask Dr. Sears website.

Allow Natural Consequences to Arise

Letting nature run its course can become a great learning tool for your child. In this situation, the parent does not provide any firsthand consequences for bad behavior but allows negative outcomes to arise. People make mistakes, but these mistakes can act as a learning experience when you permit them to happen. Although you might want to protect your child from everything that could possibly happen to him, growing up sheltered can prohibit him from experiencing consequences for his poor behavior. If he does not study for a test, allow him to fail. When he will not eat his dinner, allow him to go to bed hungry. By permitting these mistakes, you can provide consequences that will change his decision-making process going forward, notes Ask Dr. Sears.

Implement Logical Consequences

A logical consequence provides a firm and immediate punishment for a particular action. In this scenario, the parent enforces consequences that logically correspond with the action. This is similar to how things work in the real world, much like a police officer will provide an immediate ticket if you are caught speeding. When your child refuses to pick up her toys, take them away for the rest of the day, suggests the American Academy of Pediatrics' website This shows her that her actions lead to negative consequences and works much better than yelling and screaming at her.

Remove Privileges

Taking a child's privileges away acts in a similar manner to the legal code. If you break the law, you could spend time in jail without the privilege of freedom. Therefore, you can make a series of family laws and remove privileges if these laws are broken. If the child comes home late, you can ground him. For a younger child, you can remove privileges like watching television or using the computer when a rule is broken, suggests Ask Dr. Sears.

Avoid Using Physical Force

Avoid spanking your children because it sends the wrong message regarding consequences. When you spank your child, she learns that using physical force is an acceptable consequence for poor behavior. As a result, she could become violent when she does not agree with the behavior of someone else. Using physical force can also make children fearful of their parents. Spanking as a consequence often does not work because the child does not learn about the real consequences of her actions, notes the KidsHealth website. When a child is fearful of a spanking, it might not alter her behavior, but it could make her work harder at not being caught.

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