Consequences introduce a cost to misbehavior. Effective consequences reduce the likelihood of the child repeating the misbehavior in the future. They are infrequent, unpleasant, reasonable, and immediate. Consequences alone cannot teach children the values and skills important for self-worth, problem solving, and self-control. They work only if they are a part of a strategy that involves both prevention and guidance. Guidance teaches children, ”Oh! So this is what I should do.” Consequences teach children to tell themselves, “Oh, oh! I’d better not do that again!”

Prevention occurs all the time, guidance very often, and consequences infrequently. Prevention and guidance reduce the likelihood of having to use consequences. Regardless, children will test our resolve through deliberate disobedience.

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