The difference between consequences and punishment can be the difference between involuntary cooperation and apocolypse now. Involuntary cooperation looks a lot like a teen who is clearly frustrated, not talking, irritated and rolling their eyes back into their head; however, they are cooperating and within control.
Apocolypse now looks like a teen who has flipped their lid, lost their shit and is emotionally and verbally vomiting all over the living room, kitchen, bathroom, dining room, basement and attic; there is metaphorical blood everywhere.
A punishment is an infliction of a penalty for some offense. Punishments are a less effective, unhealthy and unwise way of parenting when your teen violates a rule or behaves inappropriately. Imposing a punishment often changes a teens focus from the crime they committed to the punishment they are receiving.
You don’t want that to happen!
You want your teen focusing on what they did that got them into this pickle. When punishments are handed out your teen is going to complain about ‘how unfair‘ you are being, how much they ‘hate‘ you, begin negotiating terms and totally forget about how they got there; but rather obsessing over how to ‘get out of‘ the punishment.
The reason for this is because punishments are typically harsher than necessary, because they are dished out in moments of chaos and upset. They also typically have little to do with the ‘crime’ committed. Parents think punishments work – they don’t, not long term anyway. Punishments encourage teens to learn better ways of ‘getting away with it‘, lying and manipulating. Plus, the word punishment itself feels more ‘dead man walking’ than a learning opportunity. And what you want your young ‘adults in training’ to have are learning opportunities, not jail sentences. In jail they don’t think about how they can choose differently next time, they sit and think of better ways to manipulate and lie; and inevitably flood their cell by clogging the toilet…just because they can.
Consequences are a result of an action taken or a choice made; an effect of a certain behavior. Consequences are a more effective, healthy and wise way to parent; it’s also easier because quite often natural consequences occur. Consequences keep your teens mind on what they did that landed them in this situation. Consequences offer learning opportunities and encourage teens to take accountably for their actions as well as think it through before acting next time. Your teen will have a harder time rationalizing being upset at you or ‘hating’ you for the consequences of their own actions.
Here’s an example of natural consequences: your teens are practicing golf in the backyard and you’ve told them a million times to not take full swings, but they do anyway. When they break your neighbors window and the neighbor is there to witness it, you can stand by and give permission for your neighbor to express their upset and offer a consequence to your teen – lecture at them, ask for an apology and pay to fix window (or work it off with lawn mowings and house cleanings). Even though you’re disappointed and maybe embarrassed your teen did what they did, you can calmly sit back and say “This is between you and our neighbor, I’m happy to listen to you vent about your feelings but you broke his window and you need to fix what you did. Work out the details with our neighbor.”
If they are not natural consequences, parents often have to calm down before thinking about a consequence because consequences require thought. Consequences are more mindful ways of parenting misbehavior and poor choices.
The best consequences are those that ‘fit the crime‘.
It would be unproductive to consequence a teen by giving them a month of doing dishes if they refused to use the snowblower to remove the snow in the driveway. You wouldn’t consequence them with no internet if they spilled nail polish on the floor. It’s more productive to consequence them by making them use a shovel for a week instead of the snowblower. Or you might make them deep clean and scrub the entire floor getting all stains out.
Consequences matching the crime encourage your teen to learn accountability, self control, responsibility, problem solving and thinking ahead. Teens with consequences tend to practice more self control than teens who are given punishments; hence the difference between involuntary cooperation and apocalypse now.
The download you will find attached to this blog is a list of 9 consequences for 9 ‘crimes’ to help get you started thinking about consequences instead of punishments.
I want to help you have a healthier, more communicative, productive relationship with your teen.
Trust me, using consequences instead of punishments will make a difference!
Click on the image below to get your Free Guide Today!