The Three R’s of Consequences

Use the three R’s when it comes to consequences

A consequence is most likely to teach a helpful lesson when it is related, respectful, and reasonable.

Related. If possible, make the consequence related to the behaviour. For example,  if your child makes a mess, her consequence should be that she has to clean it up (not that she can’t play on your iPad).

Respectful. The consequence should not involve shame or humiliation. Your child already feels bad when he does something wrong. If you say, “I told you so,” or if you shame him afterward, you’ll lessen the potential for learning because he’ll stop processing the experience and instead focus on the blame.

Reasonable. A consequence should be a task your child can handle — given her age and know-how — and that’s proportionate to her misbehavior. This will help her concentrate on what she’s done rather than on resenting you. If your 3-year-old is goofing around and knocks over a carton of milk, don’t expect her to mop the whole floor by herself to drive home your point. Instead, wipe up the spill together. If she refuses, leave a small amount of milk for her to clean up and you so the rest. When her crying stops, praise her for being able to calm down, remind her about the small mess to clean up, and just move on.