Here are some ideas to help you guide your preschooler’s behaviour:
Preschoolers have short memories and are easily distracted. You might need to remind them about things several times. (Test this. Try saying, ‘I will give you a piece of chocolate tomorrow morning’ and see if your preschooler remembers.)
Consequences are used to enforce limits and reinforce rules when simple reminders about appropriate behaviour haven’t worked.
When you’re focused on catching your children being good, and using the other strategies described in this write-up, you’ll need to use consequences less. But there are times when a negative consequence for difficult behaviour is needed.
It really pays to put some thought into how and why you might use consequences. If you overuse negative consequences or use them badly or inconsistently, they can have surprising and unwanted effects.
Below we explain three types of consequences that you could consider adding to your parenting.
Sometimes it’s best to let children experience the natural consequences of their own behaviour. When children experience the results of their behaviour, they can learn that their actions have consequences. They might learn to take responsibility for what they do.
Here are some examples of using natural consequences:
These are important but hard lessons, and life is often a better and faster teacher than parents are. And you don’t have to be the unfair, bad guy. You can feel for them, but saying ‘I told you so’ puts you back in their bad books.
Sometimes you do need to step in to protect children from the natural consequences of behaviour. The consequence of dangerous behaviour could be serious injury, and the consequence of persistently avoiding schoolwork can be educational failure. Sometimes natural consequences can actually reward antisocial behaviour – for example, aggressive behaviour can be rewarded when a victim gives into a bully.
A ‘related consequence’ (sometimes called a ‘logical consequence’) is when parents impose a consequence that is related to the behaviour they wish to discourage. For example:
The advantage of related consequences is they get the child to think about the issue, they feel fairer, and they tend to work better than consequences that seen irrelevant. But it’s not always easy or possible to find a related consequence.
With this type of consequence, the child loses access to a favourite object or activity because of unacceptable behaviour. The ‘privilege’ is not necessarily related to the misbehavior. For example:
Time-out is another type of consequence. It involves having your child go to a place – a corner, chair or room – that is apart from interesting activities, and other people, for a short period of time. It can be used for particularly difficult behaviour, or occasions when you both are feeling very angry and you need to take a break from each other to calm down.
Tips for using consequences:
It is important to remember that if children clearly understand what is expected of them and you regularly encourage them for doing it, they are less likely to do things that require consequences.
There are some important factors to consider when implementing any form of consequence:
Try these tips to encourage the behaviour you want in your child.