5 Ways You're Allowing Your Kids to Beat You at Your Own Consequences
Have you ever given your kid a consequence that didn’t get executed as planned?
The phone was taken away for the week, but somehow they convinced you to let them use it for their weekend basketball tournament so you can call them- and it seems like too much of a battle to take it back from them. Or you said no T.V for a week and your kid is asking you ten times a day if they can, “watch tv yet?”
Parenting is hard enough without your kids making their consequence a punishment for you.
You end up feeling frustrated and foolish that they were able to pull one over on you. Now you’re dreading giving consequences in the future because it always turns into a power struggle. Don’t worry - you’re not alone, we’ve all been there.
Here are the top 5 ways you’re allowing your kids to beat you at your own consequences:
Not Being Consistent
How can I say this clearly? ….. If you tell your child you’re taking away their phone for the weekend, and they ask if they can take their phone with them to the movie they’re going to with their friend…. What’s the answer?!
The correct answer is N.O. No.
Making consistency your priority is KEY; kids will hone in on inconsistency with lazer focus, trying to find a way out of their consequence.
Many parents encourage inconsistency by telling their youth they can ‘earn’ their way off their punishment: this is a slippery-slope method as it’s rarely measurable or objective. Unless, there is a clearly defined and measurable way for your child to earn their phone back, this method is sure to backfire. If your youth is pushing boundaries when it comes to consequences, eliminate the ‘earning back' method completely and default to a time limit method of measuring the consequence served.
Adding onto the consequence after-the-fact, taking part of the consequence back, or changing your mind once the consequence is given is a BIG NO-NO! This invites your kid to capitalize on your inconsistency, and manipulate you until you break. Once you assign the consequence: Stick with it!
Not Taking Time To Be Emotionally Prepared
We’ve all found ourself in the situation where we are in the heat of the moment, and our kid is ticking us off so much, that we accidentally ground them for the rest of their life, and forbid them from smiling and having any fun for a month! Although this is a point all parents hit, if it becomes a regular occurence your youth will begin to capitalize on this and use it to their advantage.
Assigning consequences without taking time to cool off and gather your thoughts, leads to sloppy consequences that are easy to manipulate. Be sure you are taking time to calm your emotions, clear your head, and logically plan a fitting consequence.
Walk away and set yourself a 15-minute timer. Take this time to allow the steam to blow off, and to better hone in on what was done and the specific consequence for a specific behavior. If it helps you stay on topic and avoid the emotion creeping back in, write down some notes for when you talk to your kid.
Talking Too Much & Not Being Clear
Keep it simple, Suckers!
Kids and teens have short attention spans, especially when they are waiting for the consequence that they know is coming at the end of your soliloquy.
Be brief. Utilize your alone time to narrow down your thoughts into clear and concise messages. Of course you want to pull in the life lesson: but, make it brief and clear, or it’ll be missed.
Also, make sure your child knows specifically what action has earned them the consequence: was it what they said or how they said it? If your child isn’t clear about the action that led to the consequence they are likely to make the same mistake again.
Failing to Prescribe a Reasonable Time Limit
Using your cool-down time to develop the consequence is key - not only for identifying the consequence, but also determining the length of time.
Very rarely parents give consequences that are too short. More often than not, they’re too long. Try to keep consequences between 1 or 2 weeks, in most circumstances.
If consequences are given for a month then youth start to get restless and begin feeling they ‘have nothing left to lose,’ and start acting out more.
This is how parents often end up tacking on weeks and weeks and all the sudden the phone has been taken away until the third week in June 2020.
For more serious consequences I recommend layering consequences for the week or two: phone is taken away AND bedtime has been upped an hour on school nights.
No one likes to be in the doghouse on punishment, extending consequences too long make your youth feel they’re serving a life sentence and it starts to become detrimental to their sense of worth in the family and creates distance.
Assigning a Consequence You Can’t Monitor
There’s nothing a teen loves more than when a parent assigns a punishment the teen knows their parent can’t keep track of. They are immediately thinking of ways to get around their parents supervision of the consequence.
If you’re saying no YouTube for the week, you better have a way to block/monitor when YouTube is accessed on each ipad, computer, phone, and smart tv in the home. If not, it may not be the strongest consequence. Your kid will quickly learn it’s actually ‘no YouTube in front of mom/dad, or where mom/dad could figure it out.’
In most cases our kids are more savvy than us when it comes to technology; be savvy right back and choose a more successful consequence.
For many of you this will be a boost towards beign more deliberate, consistent, and clear when giving consequences to your kids. If you’d like more support with implementing these tips with your youth, reach out to us directly by emailing Tina@EmpowerFamilyTherapy.com