How to Use Consequences

Consequences to Stop Problem Behaviors

Now that we've reviewed the general guidelines, here's a list of potential consequences that you might try depending on the age of your child and the circumstances of the bad behavior:

  • Monetary penalty. Establish a family jar with a lid that stays in one place in your home – perhaps the kitchen counter or the family room table. Then set an agreed monetary fine for designated misbehaviors. Each time any kid demonstrates the misbehavior, he is fined and must put the set amount of money in the jar. When the jar is filled, donate the money to a charity of the family's choosing. For kids short on money, make and post a list of chores that can be done to work off the fine.
  • Extra chores. Make a list of extra work chores – those beyond any of the regular responsibilities the kid might have already, such as vacuuming, dusting, raking leaves, or sweeping the patio. Any misbehavior means the kid must do one of the jobs. If your kid's behavior has affected another family member, he or she may be required to do a chore for the offended party, which relieves that person of a duty, or helps this person in some other way.
  • Apologies. Saying "I'm sorry" (in a voice that truly conveys the child is sorry) is always a way of responding to a misbehavior that affects other people. In some cases, a special apology may be required. Writing a note, having a face-to-face session, or delivering a small handmade gift can be a valuable consequence for some behaviors. An apology can also be required in addition to another consequence.
  • Grounding. Other than at school or church time, your kid must stay in the house for a specified length of time – generally one to three days – and lose all social privileges. For a much younger child, the length is usually no more than an hour or two. If the offense is particularly egregious, many parents also pull some or all home entertainment privileges – TV, video games, and phone.
  • Loss of privileges. Any continued display of the targeted misbehavior can result in your kid's losing certain specified privileges. Make sure it's something you have control over – for example, watching TV, playing video games, using the phone, listening to music, or use of a common family area.


From No More Misbehavin' by Michele Borba, Ed.D. Copyright © 2003 by Michele Borba. All rights reserved. Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Buy the book at www.amazon.com.

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