Monday, September 17, 2012

consequences

i have to begin with a definition.
con·se·quence    1. the effect, result, or outcome of something occuring earlier.
     2. an act or instance of following something as an effect, result, or outcome.   (i love dictionary.com)

i think the word consequence has taken on a bad connotation when in fact it's just an effect.   every choice has a consequence.   good consequences and/or bad.

as a parent, consequences are no longer just the natural and legal ramifications of adulthood.   not only do your actions hold consequences for the next generation and generations to come but you are now in charge of dealing out consequences yourself.   the point of consequence is not just putting an immediate stop to the behaviour,  but also teaching and steering future thought processes.   but, hey, no pressure, right?

one of my favorite things is brainstorming with other parents.   i mean, two heads are better than one, right?   so, all of us parents put our heads together to come up with new and ever more twisted ways to torture our dear children . . . .i mean more effective and pertinent ways to teach our children.    yeah, that's what i meant.   what have we come up with?   nothing new or exciting, i'm sure, but when you find something that works better than what you have been doing, it's new and exciting to you.

some tried and true methods hold still true today.   while i use a smack on the hand when my toddler gets into something he shouldn't or a smack on the back pockets to get attention, it's not the best answer for everything and loses it's effectiveness and appropriateness as they get older and more capable of understanding.   ok, the older two still get a quick smack on the shoulder or leg or whatever is handy sometimes with a, "what are you thinking!?" or,"knock it off".   my husband gets one on occasion as well, come to think of it.

natural consequences are always best.   our job as parents is to allow our kids to feel the natural consequences of their actions without doing any permanent damage.   for instance, when my towering teen was a not so towering toddler, he had a love of the stove.   he touched a hot plate, oven door, pan, whatever several times.   no matter how closely you watch your child, they are fast and persistent.   he was never severely burned, and always went back.   i watched him even more closely.   when he got burned i explained again how the stove is hot and he had to stay away from it.   i learned how to treat burns very well.   (cold water with ice floating in it was easiest at the time.   since then, i've tried used black tea bags usually with an ice cube on the top of it, and vinegar with baking soda works well too.)    i held his hand high over the burner to help him feel the warm and explained that it was hot.    he started feeling above things on the stove before touching and stopped getting burned.   this is the same little stinker that snuck his hands up on the cutting board to sneak a piece of onion to eat.   that just came down to mom watching his fingers and giving him a piece before i did anything else.   the natural consequences are a bit harsh for that one.

aside from allowing them to feel the natural consequences of their actions, parents get to come up with great consequences that resemble natural ones.   my niece was dragging her feet in the morning getting out of bed.   after my sister and i discussed the problem, my niece was informed that if she could not get up in the morning, it must be because she was tired and should go to bed earlier.  she didn't want to be going to bed at the same time or even earlier than her younger brothers.    she started getting up in the morning with no problems.   that was easy.

this is a regularly occurring one in most households.   schoolwork.     my kids learned spelling with daily spelling tests and writing the words they got wrong correctly 3 times.   see?   not punishment, good study habits.   they almost always got 100%.   recently a friend of mine instituted a similar one.   her son hadn't told her about all of his homework that he had to do.   so, while he was reading every day, he was not writing the summary sentences he was supposed to do along with it.   here's her stroke of genius: he now reads twice as much and writes twice as much to make up for what he missed, and a bit extra because when we avoid work, we create more work than we had originally.   ahhh, the joys of being a parent.   isn't it funny how the consequences of our children fall on us as well?   all worth it.