Crime, Punishment, and “Consequences” for kids

When one of the kids misbehaves, repeatedly, and won’t listen my favorite tactic is:

  1. Calmly ask them to join me away from the activity (and with 4 kids in our apartment there’s ALWAYS activity).
  2. Quietly tell them that it’s not OK while they hop from foot to foot wanting to rush back.
  3. Ask them what THEY think the consequence should be if I have to talk to them about it again.

This serves a couple of purposes. First off it makes them actually focus on the problem not just say “yeah dad, OK… can I go play now?”. Secondly because THEY set the consiquence if it comes to pass, I just quietly call them over and they know what’s coming. The waterworks are at a minimum.

But an interesting thing I’ve observed is *most* of the time the kids pick harsher penalties than I would have picked. I’m not sure what the psychology behind that is, and I rarely “lessen” them, but it’s interesting that when a kid is misbehaving THEY KNOW IT, and they KNOW THERE SHOULD BE A CONSEQUENCE that they should feel.

This is something we’ve used since Max was little. I’m honestly not sure how this works on older kids (9 years old or older)… because I just don’t have these problems with the older kids. If they’re melting down, they need food or sleep.