One of the things I’m asked most about by parents is about consequences. Some parents bring up the subject almost defensively, and they want to explain to me how consequences actually work in their family. Other families are clear that they don’t want to use consequences, but they end up throwing them out from sheer desperation, as their kids aren’t listening to them until they scream or start listing off consequences.
So right off, I want to say something that may surprise you.
Consequences do work.
So why then do I not recommend them?
The problem is that consequences work best with kids who are most aligned. So it’s a real catch 22. If you’ve heard me talk about alignment before, you’ll know that the most aligned children WANT to behave for their parents (I’m going to explain more about alignment in minute). So we’re talking about kids who are already better behaved than kids who have poor alignment.
Not only that, we’re also talking about kids who don’t like feeling their parents displeasure AND who are able to also learn from consequences. I talk sometimes about the distinction between children who are unwilling to do something versus unable. As long as a child who is well aligned is ABLE to do what you want, a consequence will normally work like a charm.
However, even with those children, I STILL don’t recommend consequences.
Why not? If something works, use it, right?
Well the problem is, and I talk about this all the time, alignment is a force that we can no longer count on like we used to. So even well aligned children nowadays are pulled in so many other directions. And even with well-aligned children, consequences do cause some damage to that very alignment.
Brief description of alignment
I love to explain alignment, which is a very real force of nature, by using the analogy of the sun and the planets. We are supposed to be like the sun, with our children orbiting around us like planets. Well-aligned children are looking to us for direction, and are modeling us. Consequences, like any other force that disrupts alignment, consequences are like asteroids hitting a planet. A few small asteroids are fine, but get enough of them, or a big enough one, or wait until your child is a teen when alignment is naturally much weaker, and your consequences could be enough to knock your child out of alignment.
So while consequences can work, I don’t recommend enforcing them. Allowing natural consequences is one thing. I’ll talk more about that in another tip. But intentionally searching for consequences in order to force your child to behave, well it’s a gamble. And ironically enough, the more you use consequences, the more likely it is that you are going to lose. Also, the more your child needs consequences to make him or her tow the line, the more likely you are to further erode the poor alignment with your child by imposing them. The long and short is the kids who need consequences the LEAST, are the ones that we can use them with the most success and the least long-term damage.
So, the more you are searching for consequences because you’re desperate to get your kids to behave, the less chance that the consequences will work. The very fact that you are searching for consequences points to the fact that you need to work on the alignment. Stay tuned for more about how to do this, as I have many more posts about how to do that.
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I look forward to hearing your reactions to this and I’d love to hear your experiences with consequences as well.
So until my next post, here’s to great parenting! And remember, if it’s too hard, it’s because you aren’t harnessing the power of alignment! Parenting isn’t supposed to be difficult and frustrating,
~ by Jacqueline Green