Implementing Consequences and Why They’re Critical for Your Child’s Development

Implementing Consequences and Why They’re Critical for Your Child’s Development

Do you know someone who didn’t have – or had limited – consequences growing up?

Unfortunately, I knew a few – and I can easily see how it has impacted them negatively into adulthood.

Who wants that for their children? It’s on us to teach them to be well-adjusted and accountable.

In this post, I’ll break down

  • What exactly consequences are when it comes to EFFECTIVE DISCIPLINE and how to implement them.
  • How we can give our child an understanding of accountability.
  • Why consequences are CRITICAL for our child’s development.

What are different types of consequences and how do we implement them?

A consequence is simply a result of one’s actions. Good or bad. Natural or imposed.

  • Your child didn’t study for his test and failed. That is a consequence.
  • When you say “I like when you pick up your toys when you are all done with them!” after doing so, is also a consequence

Consequences - why you need them and how to properly implement them


There are 3 types of consequences.

  • Natural consequences

Natural consequences are the greatest consequence of all. The consequence happens all on its own, without you intervening.

For example, your child chose not to wear her mittens like you’ve asked and now she’s cold. Next time, she’ll be likely to remember the results of her actions and hopefully not let it happen again.

  • Logical consequences

Logical consequences are when you do intervene. You intervene with a purpose.

  • If your child won’t clean up her workstation after you’ve asked, you could tell her that she won’t be doing anything else until it is cleaned up.
  • If you end up cleaning it up, you could give her a time frame on how long she isn’t allowed to use her workstation.

It’s best to keep each consequence related to the problem, so he or she can understand and take responsibility for their actions.

  • Imposed consequences

Imposed consequences are when you have to stop, drop, and take a breather. Logical consequences just haven’t been working.

For example, you’ve asked them several times to stop doing something, so you decide to suspend a privilege until they earn it back!

Work with your children, not against them.

Working with your child instead of working against them is the most effective discipline because by focusing on the positives, it helps them identify their feelings which helps them feel better about their choices. It is great for their self-esteem will help them in the long run with their self-discipline.

Logical and imposed consequences are sometimes confused with punishment. Be sure not to confuse them. The ultimate goal of having consequences is to teach them that each and every action they make has a result that comes along with it.

We are giving them the respect to make choices…

…that choice affects them positively or negatively

…and then we are helping them learn from the results of those choices.

When I was in elementary I stole a book. Out of anger and disappointment, my parents had grounded me for 6 months… 3 months in my room, and 3 months in the house. Yes…this really happened lol!

This is not a logical consequence because it doesn’t relate to the behavior, and unless you provide an opportunity for restitution, it isn’t an imposed consequence either. It is a punishment without a purpose because it doesn’t teach kids their value and worth, and it doesn’t teach them to be accountable.

Instead, you could first express why you are disappointed and why taking something that isn’t theirs is wrong. Explain how you know they are capable of doing better and then together come up with opportunities for restitution.

  • Come up with a chore list so that he or she can pay for the book.
  • Take your child over to the library to bring the book back, fess up, and apologize for taking it.
  • Suspend their privilege of going to the library without a parent until you can be assured it won’t happen again.

Consequences - why you need them and how to properly implement them

Keep each consequence related to the problem.

Remember, having consequences that are directly related to the misbehavior, is the most effective way to help them recognize the results and reflect on their actions. This is called accountability.

Just telling children how to be accountable isn’t going to work. Yes, they may learn it as they get older, but what if they don’t? I think being accountable is a must-have trait and the best way to instill it is to show them how from the time they’re old enough to understand right and wrong. 

Teaching kids accountability builds lifelong skills!

How do we show them how to be accountable?

We provide them with the opportunity and the skill set to learn it in their everyday life!

  • Set standards for your household rules and behaviors.
  • Reinforce positive consequences when they act as expected.
  • Implement negative consequences when they do not act as expected.
  • Keep communication open with your child – define why this resulted in this, or that resulted in that.

We also show them how to be accountable by becoming the example that we are setting out for them. Seeing it and living it are just as important as learning it. 

  • Our standards and expectations

Set standards all across the board. Not just sometimes and not just to some people. We need to be clear of our expectations and be consistent with our rules and responsibilities.

For example, if I am home with my kids and babysitting another child, and the other child breaks a rule… I am going to be consistent with our family standards, and treat the situation the same as if it was my daughter or son who broke the rule.

It’s important that our children know that our standards and expectations are not dependent on the person or situation because right is always right, it doesn’t matter who you are. Negative or positive, consequences are consequences! This will teach them we are serious about our values and that they need to be to.

Be clear of what your expectations are of them.

  • Implement positive and negative consequences

After defining your standards and expectations, you must reinforce consequences for results of their actions. If they do something they aren’t supposed to, impose negative consequences but be sure to explain what you didn’t like about what they did, and provide alternative ways to get better results next time.

  • Be consistent and mean what you say – it builds credibility

If we don’t always follow through with our rules and consequences, our children won’t either. That risks us weakening the standards we set and gives them the opportunity to undermine us!

Don’t make empty or unrealistic threats.

  • “Alexis! stop doing that or else you’ll be in your room for a month” – Highly unrealistic…
  • “Lucas, if you don’t stop bothering your sister this minute, we are turning this car around and going home!” – Well, should do exactly that.

When you say something, follow through. If you aren’t consistent, you can really hurt your authority. Seriously… it’s much more valuable to build credibility with your children than it is running that errand that you were on your way to do. It also helps them think twice before they act next time.

Age-appropriate consequences can take some time to think, plan out, implement, and fine tune… but the results are worth it. Have some well-thought-up consequences beforehand, so that you aren’t stuck in the moment and do something you might regret (like damage the credibility you’ve built with your kids)!

Communication means EVERYTHING

  • Communicate with your child

You should be open with your children and communicate with them whenever possible. Communication is key to a healthy and understanding relationship with anyone, especially our children!

Be available when they are more open to talking and make sure they know that you are giving them your full attention to try and understand why they feel the way they do.

For example, my daughter is more talkative when I’m tucking her in for bed… so every night after brushing teeth and hair, we chat for a few moments and if anything is on her mind, this is more so when she’d open up. Another child may be more open to talking on the drive to school in the morning.

  • Break down their actions.
  • Let your child express how he or she is feeling.
  • Listen to each side of the story, and give your full attention.
  • Show respect for their opinions and feelings.
  • Come up with better ways to handle it next time.

Consequences - why you need them and how to properly implement them

Why are consequences beneficial to my child’s growth and development?

If you don’t have consequences for your actions… you don’t hold yourself accountable for what you do and don’t do. Who is responsible for that? Who is accountable for the decisions you make and the actions you take?

Having consequences will help your children in tons of ways such as

  • being able to think responsibly about the outcome they’re looking for
  • being aware of the actions their taking.
  • being confident in their decision making.
  • the ability to take ownership of the results of their decisions, actions, and behaviors

I see all too often where people place the blame on anyone or anything else…other than themselves.

I also see adults who have had no consequences, (or limited) grow up through teen years rebelling and not having any respect for authority! When I say authority, I mean all walks, like YOUR rules and standards, as well as the laws!

I’ve witnessed these teens not give a damn about what happens if they do this or that.

I’ve seen them suffer natural consequences, but hold no accountability, and often repeat the same behavior.

I’ve seen tons of these teens, some of who I’ve grown up with, enter adulthood without a sense of responsibility or accountability, and have no sweet clue how to ‘adult’.

If you’re the age of an adult without a sense of accountability or responsibility… are you really an adult? The answer is no in my opinion.

My job as a mom is to make sure my children have every opportunity to become the well-adjusted humans that they are capable of growing up to be! Having consequences play a huge part in that and being a parent, it is OUR obligation and responsibility to teach and show them how!

Let me know your thoughts on having consequences/or not having consequences.


This Post Has One Comment

  1. I’m struggling with my 3 YO right now! Great tips in here.

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