Choosing consequences

Narelle Smith, our parenting expert, recently posted this article to her blog (


What have I been talking with parents about this past month?

A lot of parents have been very interested to know how they can determine whether the consequences they are giving their child’s mistaken behaviour are fair and reasonable, and designed to address the behaviour.

First of all, consequences need to be related to the mistaken behaviour. Sometimes this can be tricky. But if the child has been jumping on the lounge, then taking away the soccer game on Saturday doesn’t make sense. The consequence is not related to the behaviour. A more appropriate consequence is allowing the child to sit on the floor for a little while.

I use a checklist…

  • Is it positive?
  • Am I guiding and educating my child?
  • Am I teaching my child new skills and behaviours?
  • Will it maintain our relationship?

I will give you a few scenarios, to see how this works.

Scenario 1

A mother told me once how her parent would rip up her homework if she made one mistake. She would then have to do the homework all over again.

What do you think? Which of the above criteria does this meet?

Scenario 2

A mother told me how her young child was fussing at the dinner table. The mother calmly put the child’s plate to the side, and calmly told her child that she would return the dinner when the child could sit and be calm. The child was able to settle herself quickly and the mother returned the dinner saying “thank you for sitting so calmly, you are able to eat your dinner better when you sit still”.

What do you think? Which of the above criteria does this consequence meet?

You don’t have to be mean to your child for them to know better and do better.


“Where did we ever get the idea that in order to make children do better, first we have to make them feel worse? Think of the last time you felt humiliated or treated unfairly. Did you feel like cooperating or doing better?”

Jane  Nelson


Author: Narelle Smith
Family Worker and Chaplain
Nepean Community & Neighbourhood Services

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