Most parents have used threats as convincers—“No TV until homework is done.”
Threats may work in the short run, but they don’t teach kids what to do differently. What works best is letting students experience the results of their behavior, naturally, through the normal flow of events.
Using natural consequences effectively isn’t easy. But here’s how to start:
Begin with one or two situations that offer reasonable consequences. For example:
- Doesn’t do homework—receives lower grade.
- Leaves clothes on floor—clothes not clean when needed.
Bestow power. Think of your child as being concerned about his life and wanting to handle it. Then convey this message. “I talk too much about your clothes. You are capable of deciding what you wear.”
Practice healthy neglect. Let your child choose the time for telling about a problem he’s having. Then listen and keep your responses low-key.
Don’t ask too many questions. This conveys the idea that, “If you know the facts, you can improve the situation.”
Stand in your child’s shoes. Respond to feelings. Listen to his difficulties as a friend would, with no need to act or change anything.
Suspend judgment and suggestions. Answer questions with questions about what she thinks.
Recognize choices. Summarize the advantages and disadvantages of the solutions your child comes up with.
Respect her decision. Be willing to live with—or without—the resolution of a problem.
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