Consequences both positive and otherwise

Thousands marched in Sydney against the state's Covid lockdown. Photo: Getty Images
Thousands marched in Sydney against the state's Covid lockdown. Photo: Getty Images
Some parents find it hard to let their children learn from consequences but it’s the only way we learn that everything we do does have a consequence of some sort, writes Ian Munro.

Ian Munro
Ian Munro
Our grandchildren in Sydney are in lockdown - again. They seem to be taking it quite well so far. However, one thing puzzles them. Why do all those people crowd into the streets to demonstrate without even wearing masks, when they’re supposed to be at home?

At 10 years and younger they seem to be able to grasp the consequences of doing this. They understand that as soon as the virus is back under control things will more or less return to normal.

They can grasp, to a certain level, that it’s all about consequences and personal responsibility and that the consequences could be very serious. Serious for the people in the street and their families and serious for them because it will probably delay them getting back to school.

Some parents find it hard to let their children learn from consequences but it’s the only way we learn that everything we do does have a consequence of some sort. Even not tying our shoelaces can have an uncomfortable consequence.

These things are best learnt when the outcomes aren’t serious. The earlier we start, the less difficult it is when they get to be teenagers. And maybe, unlike the Sydney adults, they might learn to consider the impact on the health of others even if they don’t hold great regard for their own.

Consequences should have meaning to the child, bear some relationship to the event and be simple and straightforward. If they’re complicated, it allows room for debate.

We need to be able and willing to enforce them and, with young children, they shouldn’t last too long. Teenagers, on the other hand, may face a week of something.

The consequence should follow as soon after the behaviour as possible and always be reasonable but still carry weight. For example, a speeding fine usually outweighs the reasons we had for speeding.

It’s important to be consistent in applying consequences. It’s no use being strict on something one day and letting them get away with the same thing another. Kids will always gamble on getting away with it and, if on an occasion they don’t, will be quick to point out that it didn’t worry us yesterday.

If we aren’t predictable, they’ll never learn the predictability of consequences and, as they get older, will always being chancing their arm that they’ll get away with things. Predictability gives security and security brings stability.

Consequences should be dished out as calmly and impartially as possible. After all, it’s not so much us punishing them as them punishing themselves.

At the same time, we should also provide appropriate consequences when something has gone well, has been done well or has been achieved. Positive consequences are equally important.

 

Comments

The 'Don't tell me what to do', mob are many. They are not children.

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