In Rewards, Punishment and Consequences, ksquirkyteacher talks about a video she had to watch for professional development. Then she adds,
“To say that kids should never be punished or rewarded is ridiculous. That sends a clear message to the child that they can get away with anything. Adults have consequences and so should children, otherwise they are forming bad habits that will stay with them for life.”
When my own children were growing up, I had a really hard time with natural consequences. There would be battles over wearing a coat or hat, or many other trivial things. I know I am a control freak so allowing my children to suffer natural consequences was really hard for me. Then I had to think about what is the worst thing that could happen. When I put it in a different perspective, it really helped me let my kids suffer natural consequences. Then I stopped being the bad guy and they learned from their mistakes (usually, not always). Sometimes they had to suffer the consequences more than once.
As Ksquirkyteacher mentions, adults deal with this all the time and there usually isn’t someone out there to warn about the consequences. Hopefully the many things we learned as a child prepare us for the consequences so we can make better decisions.
The thing that helped me was to give my students choices and discuss the consequences beforehand. At the beginning this took more time than later on in the year because they heard the choices and consequences before.
An example using school work:
1. They can complete their work on time and enjoy recess.
2. They can refuse to do their work and do it during recess.
I don’t feel this is a punishment where I would be taking away their recess. Instead I feel that they are making the choice and accepting the consequence. The important part of this learning is the role of the teacher. The teacher must make sure that the consequence is followed or the student will not learn which behavior benefits the most.
As adults, I believe we go through the same process of looking at choices and consequences but we have done it for so long we take it for granted. We think that everyone goes through the same process. But if we don’t teach our students this process, they won’t have this skill to use as an adult. I believe this skill is important to be successful in life no matter what you do.
How do you deal with behavior and consequences? Please share.