types of negative consequences


New Member
Any one with tween or teen difficult child's have any words of wisdom when it comes to creative/non-violent negative re-enforcements, (besides time-out) for blatant rule breaking? I am trying to get away from any type of physical enforcement (not that I beat him, or anything, but I do physically pick him up and place him where he needs to be when he won't cooperate) before he gets much older. He is four now, and I am afraid of the day he is too big for me to "handle" At home it is a little easier, because I can take away toys/privileges, etc (not that that always works) but if he is acting out in public, and we need to leave, and he is older, how can I get him in the car? Is there anything I can do now that will make it easier later? Or am I just hopelessly naive?


Me: late 30's RN
Husband of fifteen years: early 40's engineer
well-behaved 9 year old daughter, and completing our family
one little imp, undiagnosed, age 4

timer lady

Queen of Hearts

in my humble opinion, it's a bit too early to worry about consequences for your little one. You've a long way to go & little "imp" has a lot of growing, learning & maturing to do.

Please don't borrow trouble right now. You'll know soon enough what level of intervention/consequences little "imp" may need.


New Member
I agree with Linda. My difficult child had terrible, out of control rages at ages 10-11 which stopped with interventions and maturity. It's a good thing for me because at 16 he's got me by 6 inches and 120lbs. He's known for years that he is physically stronger than me. In middle school he still had aggressive tendencies but not towards me. When he was feeling full of himself he would taunt with me with this. I told him flat out, if he ever went off on me again like he used to, I'd have no choice but to call the police. I meant it but thankfully I never had to prove it.

I would focus on the present and just take one day at a time.


Active Member
What works for us is natural consequences. Read Ross Greene's "The Explosive Child" to help you get a better understanding of what can really work.

It sounds really bad to take away punishments for bad behaviour, but especially with a really bright kid, these punishments seem more like a parent being mean because they're bigger and they can, rather than anything useful.

It comes back to - what is the purpose of punishment? Most parents would say it's a deterrent, but we need to have a system that is as similar to life as possible. Often in life, the punishment is non-existent (if you don't get caught). Or it can even be a reward. Not good.

An example I gave the other day - difficult child 3 ate the last of the ice cream for dessert. Now that's OK for him to help himself (it's how we do it) but HE DIDN'T TELL ME IT WAS THE LAST.
Not telling me is not that huge a crime, but because he didn't tell me, I didn't know to buy more. The consequence was on all of us - we ALL missed out on ice cream the next night. difficult child 3 missed out on his ice cream the next night, but so did the rest of us. difficult child 3's punishment was not just missing out on ice cream, it was also feeling guilty because he could hear his father, his sister and brother complain that we were out of ice cream, and "Who forgot to tell Mum so she could get more?"
It worked very effectively.

Examples of consequences -

* If you do something sneaky, others lose trust in you, and that lasts until you earn that trust back again. Or maybe you stole all the chocolate biscuits - the consequences are, mum buys no more chocolate biscuits (or buys another packet to share with everyone else who missed out because of difficult child's greed)

* If you hurt someone, you have to make them feel better and put up with others being upset with you for making someone else sad. Natural consequences here include an apology and a talking to about resolving differences. Maybe even some conflict resolution with the other person involved.

* If you trash your room, nobody else is going to clean it up. That's YOUR bed on the floor with the bedding pulled off? Enjoy your sleep tonight, honey.

* If you are wearing your party clothes and you're told to stay inside to keep clean, but instead you go outside to throw a ball for the dog and you fall down and get muddy, the consequences can range from missing the party because you haven't got time to change; going to the party all muddy (same reason); having to wear old but clean clothes to the party; having to do your own laundry. And THEN having to explain to others why you're wearing muddy/old clothes to the party. You let the child do the talking, as long as they are truthful.

These are natural consequences, which are a reflection of what real life will impose on our kids when parental influence is no longer around. The kids can't whine and say, "That's not fair" because sometimes, LIFE isn't fair and we ALL have to deal with it.

If I forget to refuel the car and we run out in the middle of the bush road, the kids see my consequences - considerable inconvenience and needing to rely on the goodness of strangers to give me a lift into town to borrow a jerry can
and then back again to refuel the car in the middle of the bush. A lot of time is wasted and it was MY FAULT. Other people are affected and the kids see that I have to make amends elsewhere too. If someone has rescued me, I will do something nice for them to say thank you. The kids see this and help me. They learn by example.

And the same for them.

We all have to learn - don't owe any favours, always pay back any good deed done for you. Because if you constantly sponge off other people and rely on their good nature, sooner rather than later they will make themselves scarce the next time you need help.
This also means - be ready to help someone in need. By doing so, you store up good deeds which maybe one day will come back to you in a good way.

Parenting and discipline can be very positive.

A disobedient kid - do you want his company? Less likely. An untrustworthy kid - you keep him close, just to keep an eye on him. And when parents keep a kid close, they often involve them in whatever they're doing, such as cooking or washing. I never make this a punishment, more a case of "This work has to be done anyway, I'm not doing it because I enjoy it but because if I don't, then the family will miss out on tonight's meal/having clean washing/whatever else". And if the child helps me, I will be finished sooner and then we can play together or go for a walk.

When it's not the parent inflicting the punishment, but the consequences of the child's actions themselves applying the punishment, then the parent is not the enemy (not so much). It's easier to commiserate with the child. "I'm sorry your party clothes got muddy, that is why it's a good idea to wear old clothes when playing fetch with the dog. Which would have been better - play with the dog after the party and enjoy a party while clean and looking nice, or skip the party and just throw the ball? You made your own choice."

Respect the child and this will show by example how you want respect in return. Don't shout, or treat he child in any demeaning way (which so many adults do, without thinking - have they forgotten what childhood was like?). So often parents shout at a disobedient child and this only makes things worse. One of the best teachers I ever had didn't need to shout at the class - when her voice dropped in volume we knew she was angry and we had to pay attention. Watch Meryl Streep in "The Devil Wears Prada". She COULD have played that character as loud, annoying and a shrill harpy. She did the opposite and I think it was all the more chilling for it.

Good luck.

I think the others have already given you great advice. I really don't have much to add at this point. Try to take it one day at a time. Is your difficult child receiving any services???

I remember all too well what it was like when my difficult children were as young as yours!!! Sending cyber hugs. :flower: WFEN