Magic Bullet for Children: Rewards and Consequences

The title to this post is actually the old Bait and Switch. Sorry! I believe, thoroughly and completely, that if you do Descriptive Praise, Reflective Listening, Preparing for Success, and Never Ask Twice techniques consistently and predictably, that you’ll rarely have to use Rewards and Consequences. But, because you are here, I will give you what you searched for: Rewards & Consequences, that work.

Rewards & Consequences

When you do use Rewards, make sure that you are getting something good, in return:

  • When the homework is done, you get 30 minutes of Screen Time
  • When the dog is fed, you get to go to Johnny’s
  • When you have had 30 minutes of quiet time, you get to play a board game
  • When you have set the table, without being asked, for 7 days in a row, you’ll get your allowance

When you do use Consequences, make sure that your child knew exactly what the consequence was, up front. Don’t claw something back that you have been giving freely:

  • Don’t take away the bedtime book because she didn’t get out of the bath, cooperatively
  • Don’t take away the Screen Time she earned because she is kicking her sister
  • At a neutral time, state the rule, make her tell you the rule in her own words, and practice this many times
  • When she does mess up and earns a consequence, resist the temptation to say, “I told you so,” get angry, or use too many words. Just follow through.

Following through is┬áthe most difficult part of giving Consequences to children. We’re angry. We’re frustrated. We cannot believe that we are here, again. But, the calmer you deliver the Consequence, the more that your child will learn. How, you ask? Because, if you are angry when you deliver the Consequence, your child can be angry back, and even blame you. But, if your child receives her just and fairly-given consequence, she did it to herself. The Magic Bullet is using Rewards and Consequences as a LAST resort, calmly and matter of factly, even with a “DARN! You lost your screen time and I know how much you wanted to watch that show!” Good luck with Descriptive Praise, Reflective Listening, Preparing for Success, and Never Ask Twice. Ready for a coaching session? Book one, here.


What will HELP a child’s temper tantrum

When your child is having a bad temper tantrum, it isn’t convenient. Likely you have missed dinner, a nap, downtime, etc. And…you are public. Like a bad dream, the meltdown begins, loudly and in front of clients, diners, or the checkout line. A temper tantrum is most likely resulting from a physical need not being met (food, sleep, being carried) and not getting her way. This flood of bad feelings will extinguish more quickly if you Reflectively Listen and try to understand what she is feeling. Here are some tips:


Reflective Listening

  • Tell her what you think she might be feeling
  • Ask if there is more
  • Stay positive and gentle
  • Stay in charge
  • Make sure she cannot hurt you or others
  • Tell her that you are right here, if she needs a hug
  • If she won’t accept a hug, stay close
  • Talk or murmur sweet nothings – she needs to hear your calm voice

The calm after the storm will be worth it. She’ll sleep good tonight (and she may be in a great mood, when it is all said and done). One last bit of advice: Don’t give in, even after she has calmed herself. Good luck – and tell me how it goes, in the comments.