from Kirk Martin at Celebrate Calm

A Different Way to Look at Consequences

One of the more common questions we get at workshops is how to handle consequences with kids. I am a firm believer in giving children choices in how to behave; in setting very clear and firm expectations and consequences; in following through on the “promises” you make to enforce those consequences. Consistency and a calm, matter-of-fact approach are critical. 

Huge caveat: there is a “higher way” than consequences that we can get to as parents. If you have helped build your child’s vision and internal motivation and given them tools to succeed, you will find that consequences are not necessary-because your child is motivated and equipped to be successful. 

That said, here are three different scenarios and how I would handle them. These apply equally for parents and teachers. One of my goals is to go beyond telling you what to do, and instead teach principles that you can apply to different situations. 

Q1: What do I do when I have two kids in the backseat of the car screaming at each other? I can’t always pull over and give them a consequence.

Whenever possible, I like to teach larger life principles to kids because I don’t want to just change immediate behavior–I want to teach kids how life works. So one of my favorite tools is teaching the natural law of sowing and reaping. This principle is built into nature and operates independently of us. 

As always, check your own anxiety and frustration first. If you REACT with anxiety and frustration, you will sabotage your efforts because your kids know they have power over you. So calmly and nonchalantly tell your kids:

“You guys can choose to scream in the car if you want. I just want you to know that you reap what you sow. So if you choose to continue to scream, I promise you that the next five times your favorite TV show comes on, I am going to come into the living room and bang my pots and pans very loudly so that you can’t hear your show. So it’s up to you, your choice. If you’d rather play a game in the car, tell me what you guys would like to do together with Mom and Dad this coming weekend or listen to your favorite CD, that may be more enjoyable. But it’s your choice.”


from Kirk Martin, Celebrate Calm



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