How Predictable Consequences Could Improve Your Parenting Strategies

predictable consequences

Most children go through stages of defiance at some point in their lives. Their opinions suddenly become more important than their parents, and they choose to misbehave as a result of it. Many of the children that we work with in child counseling misbehave at school or at home simply because their parents aren’t sure what disciplinary tactics will work best for them. In this discussion, we will explore the benefits of predictable consequences and how you can use them to improve the relationship structure in your home.

What Are Predictable Consequences?

The predictable consequences principle follows the idea that for every action, there is a consistent and predictable reaction. In other words, every time your child behaves in a certain way, he is disciplined in the same way. This cause and effect relationship helps children identify what the consequences are for their actions so they may avoid doing them in the future. If your child knows that staying up past bed time will result in less TV time tomorrow, he’s more likely to go to bed.

Creating The Right Consequence For Each Action

At first, it can be tricky identifying which consequences you should use for which behaviors. Try ranking your child’s behaviors and the consequences he may experience as a result of them. For example, talking back may be considered less severe than hitting a sibling but more severe than not flushing the toilet. In the same light, taking away TV time may be more effective than sending a child to bed early but less effective than taking away a child’s tablet.

Consider how your child responds to different punishments and disciplinary strategies. Use the most effective strategies for the behaviors that you want to correct the most. These may be the behaviors that your child does most often (not brushing his teeth) or the ones that could yield the most negative results (punching at the wall). If you notice that a certain tactic isn’t working well for a certain behavior, you may need to move up in the rankings to find a more effective solution for the problem.

“Predictable Consequences” Doesn’t Mean Static Consequences

Just because you set up predictable consequences doesn’t mean your consequences cannot change. If your child gets used to a certain punishment, he may not be as affected by it as he originally was. This means that you need to adjust your consequences moving forward to something that will actually make an impact. If your child seems unaffected by taking away 30 minutes of his TV time, take away an hour or forbid him from watching TV altogether. You may have to use multiple consequences together to get through to your child. Identify your child’s currency, and use that to create a solid behavior-to-consequence system. Hopefully in time, you don’t have to use any consequences at all.