Parenting is a challenge — mostly because children seem determined to make it so.
When a parent is trying to get a child to do something — or stop doing something — it is often easy to issue a threat.
Some threats, delivered in the “heat of battle,” can be counterproductive and undermine credibility:
“If you don’t come take your bath right now, we are not going to Disneyland this weekend.” Or, “If you don’t stop bothering your sister, I’m going to give away your new toys.”
It’s easy to think, “I’d never say that” — but it’s a rare parent who has never gone that route under stress.
The problem is that children are very good at sensing insincerity, and they know when a threat is so wild that you will not follow through. That makes the process ineffective. It simply doesn’t work.
Stating consequences can be a very effective means of discipline, especially if there is a logical relation between the response and the behavior, and if the consequences are carried out exactly as described.
The bottom line is that it’s very important for children to learn that you mean what you say. If a consequence is credible, and if you follow through, the behavior stands a good chance of changing in the direction you are hoping for.
Make yourself clear when explaining consequences, and always follow through. That’s the best advice of all.