Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Setting Expectations and Consequences

“Before we set out, I outlined our “zero tolerance” strategy.  I let them know that we would be not touching each other in the stroller today.  Period.
This would involve a three strike system.  If you touch your sibling, it will result in:
1) A verbal warning,
2) Being buckled in, and finally
3) Ejection from the stroller.
…We reminded them about the system, every time they got in the stroller, and it somehow worked.”

Then she asks,

“Have you had success on a plan like this?  Do your kids rise to meet expectations or is it just too frustrating to try?”

I think it is so important to think about the specific behavior we want our kids to show. Just saying I want them to behave is not specific enough. I think I need to say what actions will show me that they are behaving.

I may need to find out what one thing they do that bugs me the most and focus on that. I need to work on one behavior at a time so that they can learn the appropriate behavior that is acceptable. Once they learn that, I can move on to another behavior. I believe that is what Melissa did in her plan.

I think it is also important to be consistent and firm. If I am going to spell out consequences, then it is important that I follow through. It doesn’t mean anything if I threaten consequences and don’t enforce them. What a child learns is that I don’t mean what I say. My mother was really good at saying things and meaning them so when she told me what would happen if I did something I shouldn’t, I had no doubt that it would happen.

I also believe that patience is important. Sometimes the kids won’t learn the first time and need to suffer the consequences even if we hate doing this. The kids might act out worse before it gets better but I believe that is just a test to see if I’m going to follow through. This is especially true if I haven’t done this well in the past. I need to keep applying the consequences every time the kid does not do what is expected.

I think as long as my expectations are reasonable for the child’s age, it is important to teach them socially acceptable behaviors. I know it would be easier to let them do what they want but in the long run it will do nothing but give me a great big headache.

What do you do to set expectations and consequences? Please share.

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