Creative Consequence Ideas for Children
One of things that we get asked for the most is creative consequence suggestions for kids. We think there's a good reason for this. Most parents get tired of issuing the same idle threats or delivering the same punishments for nearly every form of misbehavior. They'd like to be able to capture the attention of their children in a more creative way and help them consider the nature of their misbehavior and how it can be turned around.
In our household, we're always on the lookout for ways to inspire obedience in our children. It might seem strange, but one of the ways we try to do this is through creative consequences. Yelling is great at scaring children and is even effective at curbing misbehavior for a time but it's a horrible character training tool. If you really want to reach your child and help them understand why what they did was wrong, you'll need a little more time and a lot more creativity. Specifically, you're looking for consequences that are memorable and are as closely related to the offense as possible.
Below, I've listed off some forms of poor behavior along with suggestions for consequences. Each of these categories are found on the Disobedience Chart in Character Badges and we have used many of the consequences on our family's Consequence Chart, but you could employ them with or without the charts. The main thing is to be clear with your children about your expectations and what they can expect when they cross certain lines; and most importantly – be consistent! (One other thing I want to mention is to be discerning as to the age appropriateness of these suggestions. Some children shouldn't be held to these standards on account of their being too young).
Offense: Bad Manners
Bad manners usually manifest themselves at mealtimes, but we also consider any show of disrespect towards others (particularly one's elders) to be a form of bad manners.
Consequence: For bad manners at mealtime, clean up after the meal. If this is already assigned to someone else, they are relieved of the responsibility and the offender takes their place. Or, be excused from the dinner table to eat alone (or) miss out on dessert.
CONSEQUENCE: For disrespectful actions towards others (such as refusing to shake hands or speak to one's elders) – Offer a verbal apology to the individual (or) write a letter of apology to the individual (or) write sentences about showing respect to others.
Ah, pouting. It's more than just a sour face and a whiny voice. It can also manifest itself in the form of rolling one's eyes, complaining, heavy sighing, or even running away when they've been asked to do something.
CONSEQUENCE: Pouting cost's time, so consider attaching a unit of time to every pouting infraction. For instance, if you pout you will work an additional 10 minutes on your chores or go to bed 10 minutes earlier. This can soon add up!
This is pretty self explanatory. Unwillingness to pick up after oneself. Leaving behind messes for other's to clean up.
CONSEQUENCE: Untidiness causes more work for somebody and that somebody is usually mom. To help get this point across, not only must the offender clean up their mess, they must do extra work in the form of a chore or clean up after someone else's mess.
This can be a pretty common offense, particularly with older siblings towards younger ones.
CONSEQUENCE: Turn the table on the bossy child by having them serve the bossed person for a set period of time. This way they get a little taste of their own medicine! This consequence can actually be quite entertaining when the older ones have to do the younger one's bidding for a time; "We're going to play house!" or "Please clean my room!" etc. etc. :)
Children can be silly, and that's ok. But foolishness is when they take it to the next level and simply lose control of themselves to the point of rudeness.
CONSEQUENCE: Foolishness generally feeds off of the attention of others, so separation is a good idea. Time alone in one's room or corner time for a number of minutes equal to the child's age can help.
Offense: Back talking
Back talking is a form of disrespect shown towards parents when a child is unwilling to comply with a request or tries to negotiate their way out of it.
CONSEQUENCE: To help the child learn the importance of listening to and complying with your instructions, have them serve as your helper for a specified period of time. During this time they shadow you and are expected to do whatever is asked of them. If they continue to complain, the time is increased until they can display an attitude of respect.
Laziness can show up in many ways, but we all know it when we see it. We specifically want to point out that it's really just another form of selfishness as leaving your work undone just makes more work for someone else.
CONSEQUENCE: The consequence here is similar to untidiness. Lazy children are unconcerned about the extra work their laziness has created for others. Giving them an extra chore or two will help to make them more concerned with doing their tasks to completion.
Disobedience can take so many forms that it can be difficult to tailor a consequence for it. In our household, once our children get so many checks on their Disobedience Chart they have to go to bed a specified number of minutes earlier than everyone else. The more checks they receive, the earlier they have to go to bed. Like most children, our's detest early bedtimes so they try hard to avoid this.
Offense: Mean Behavior
This offense refers to acts intended to physically or materially harm others or to hurt their feeling by cruel speech. We have almost zero tolerance for this.
CONSEQUENCE: Make the offending child do something that is helpful to the one they've harmed. We usually have them go and clean their room for a specified period of time. Or, we will have them ask what they could do for them. Usually with the little ones all is quickly forgiven and they want them to play a game with them or something. The offending child isn't usually happy about this at first, but as they spend time with them they get over it and even enjoy themselves. We do this for fighting too. The message we're trying to send here is that the person you were so upset with is not all that bad and deep down you actually love them. Just move past the scuffle and be friends again!
Oh boy. This is a big one and not easily dealt with. Often the consequence depends on the amount of time we have to spend arriving at the truth of the matter. If the child readily admits their lie, the consequence is less strict; but attempts at covering up a lie usually lead to more lies and hence, stricter consequences.
CONSEQUENCE: Usually loss of privilege related to the incident. Again, we determine the amount of time based upon how long the child maintains the lie and the effort they made to do so.
I would also like to recommend this post from Kim Sorgius over at Not Consumed for some more creative ideas. There's a lot of good stuff in there that will help you get the gears turning as you consider how best to respond to your child's misbehavior.
What about you? Have any good ideas for creatively curbing poor behavior? Leave a comment below!