Want to learn how to impose consequences without being “the Bad Guy”? Here’s another simple language tweak that can have a big impact on behavior.
We already talked about the simple language tweak to Eliminate Bribes by using three simple words to encourage responsibility and promote compliance with rules.
But what if that technique doesn’t work for you. What if “ as soon as” is never. Your child does not finish their homework, they do not eat their vegetables, they do not clean their room.
So, your child has misbehaved. They have broken a rule and pushed a limit too far. Now, it’s time to impose a consequence. There are generally three types of parents when it comes to consequences:
Don’t feel judged if you fall into one of the first two categories. You can become an Informed parent by imposing consequences using a slightly improved vocabulary about consequences.
Well, here’s your next language tweak:
which is followed by the consequence.
So, when homework is not finished. You would say,
“Suzie, YOU CHOSE not to finish your homework today, so now YOU have DECIDED not to watch TV tonight.”
(I know, a lot of you are thinking that not finishing homework is not an option, but we can save that discussion for another time).
When the room is not clean, you would say,
“Marcus, YOU CHOSE not to clean your room this week, so now YOU have DECIDED not to go to the party on Saturday.”
When kids come to my office, they complain about consequences . The conversation goes something like this:
Child: My mom took away my phone for the week. She’s so mean!
Me: You’re so disappointed . What made her take your phone?
Child: She was mad because I didn’t clean my room.
Me: OOOH.. So YOU DECIDED not to have your phone this week.
Child: Huh? Or No, she took it.
Me: But you knew that you needed to clean your room.
Me: So, you CHOSE not to clean your room.
Child: I guess so.
Me: So, YOU DECIDED not to have your phone.
And here’s the winning catch phrase:
AND NEXT TIME YOU CAN DECIDE DIFFERENTLY!
So, permissive parents will love this model because you are TRULY not the bad guy. It is relatively easy to follow through on and “AS SOON AS” comes back into play.
As soon as you clean your room, you can have your phone back.
Strict Parents, this will not feel all that different. The only difference is that your kids will not be quite so angry with you. You can still expect compliance and you can still enforce limits, but your children will benefit from the lesson of accountability.
Now, once that tasks has been completed, here are my top ten alternatives to “Good Job!” and why that phrase is not always as helpful as you think.
Jennifer Taylor, LCSW, RPT is an experienced child and family therapist and public speaker who specializes in trauma, ADHD, and conduct problems. Discover more about her diverse clinical background and family. Reach out to Jennifer with questions or comments by emailing at firstname.lastname@example.org
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