No Small Consequence: Our Children’s Future

Years ago, it was common practice for parents to physically reprimand their children when they “misbehaved.” Spanking, hitting and far worse occured with regularity, and seemed to be the norm.

Although there is still a percentage of the world that hits their kids (which I don’t agree with), there is an increasing percentage of parents who do not discipline their kids at all (which I do not agree with). 

So if we want to help our children learn, but we don’t want to use violence to “teach them,” what’s a dad to do? What other ways of discipline are there?

Yelling? Nope. Been there, done that. It sucked…
Click here for research and details as to why yelling at our kids is an inferior form of discipline. As a matter of fact, it can permenantly damage their brains!

What we can do is offer consequences. Large or small, consequences can be handed out with the calmest of voices, without any physical abuse. I’ve found that as long as I follow through with whatever consequence I offer, it is incredibly effective. It also helps my kids learn to be responsible for their actions.

If we don’t teach our kids to act in acceptable ways through some type of discipline, what kind of adults will they grow up to be? And if we spank or beat the crap out of them, well, what are we really teaching them?

I see too many parents letting their kids do whatever the hell they want. The kids run the show. Until recently, I often found myself in the role of the typical pushover dad   making idle threats about consequences I never followed through on. Saying things like, “stop it… stop it or there’s no more TV for the rest of the day… I said stop it or there’s no more TV!” Of course, I never turned off the television and the behavior I was trying to stop continued until I would yell.

Not how I wanted to handle things.

Frustrated, I wrote two posts: How to Retrain t he Reactive Brain, Part 1 & Part 2, and in the process discovered that offering & following through on consequences seemed like the most effective, least harmful form of discipline for me to practice.

Last week my wife and I received a letter from my son Max’s (4.5 years old) teachers. He’s been acting out in preschool, yelling at them when they tell him to come to circle time. Max has also taken to raising his voice at us at home.

We do not allow him to raise his voice at us. We use consequences, coupled with discussion (when things calm down), to help him modify his behavior. Of course, yelling at his teachers is unacceptable too, so we let him know there will (and have already been) consequences for this negative behavior.

But it’s a fine line, because I want to procure Max’s independence. I want him to grow up believing in himself, that his opinion matters. Because it does. On the other hand, he needs to learn that yelling is NOT the way to express himself.

But I can’t put it all on Max. I am partially (possibly to a large degree) to blame for his behavior. Although I am constantly working on not yelling (see Stop Yelling Daddy! Part 1 & Part 2), both my boys have seen and heard me do yell. Like it or not, I’ve set a poor example.

We need to treat our kids with respect if we’d like them to be respectful people. We need to listen to them if we expect them to learn how to listen. We need to guide them in ways that do not damage them or riddle them with baggage that they may wind up carrying around through adulthood.

We’ve got to walk a tightrope, giving them space to shape themselves while shaping their space so it’s a positive environment.

And remember, you are not alone…

3 Replies to “No Small Consequence: Our Children’s Future”

  1. What was the consequence you imposed when he would yell out in class? I am having the same problem with my 5 year old daughter in Kindergarten. Thanks for your help.

    1. We took away his favorite TV show for the entire next day. And we let him know he had to apologize. When it happened again, we took away his favorite toys for an entire day, and again let him know he needed to apologize as he was rude to yell at his teachers.

      We tried to explain to him why it was rude, but at the same time ask him what it was he was upset about. He articulated his reasons and then we gave him some alternative ways to express himself – like explaining to his teachers that he was upset because…



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