Parenting Tip: The Power of Loving Consequences

By Greg Baer M.D.

July 9, 2024

Parenting can often feel like a challenging balancing act, especially when it comes to disciplining children

Many parents struggle to find effective ways to address misbehavior without resorting to harsh punishments or damaging their relationship with their child. 

In this blog, I share a powerful example of how loving, consistent consequences can transform a child's attitude and behavior in a matter of minutes.

Example of How Loving Consequences Work 

Mom called me to say, “Consequences really work. Wow!” 

Then she told me how her fourteen-year-old son, Bill, had come home from school with a snotty attitude, which involved saying something unkind to his sister. 

Immediately Mom said, without a trace of anger, “What are you doing right now?” 

Bill was not in the mood for correction, so he responded with, “Nothing” and began to stomp out of the room. 

Mom called out, raising her voice a little to be heard but not with anger:

“Stop. Come back here. You know the drill. I’ve taught you about flinging your attitude around before, and you understood me. Just now I gave you a chance to learn simply by you recognizing what you were doing. If you had done that, this conversation would not be happening. But you refused and gave me more attitude. So, when words fail, what comes next?” 

With less attitude but still plenty of it, Bill said, “Consequences.” 

“You got the word right,” Mom said, “but you’ve still got attitude. So now you have a choice. You can try again to answer my question without attitude, or I can increase the consequence. Remember, YOU are choosing now whether to have a little consequence or a bigger one.” 

Bill got quiet and with sincerity—not perfect but enough—he said, “If I can’t learn with words, I get consequences to teach me.”  

“Nice learning,” Mom said. “Because you chose to learn early—without a fit or anything—the consequence is small. There are a few dishes on the counters around the kitchen. Wash them and wipe the counters. That’s all.” 

Why Loving Consequences Work 

Bill accomplished the task in less than ten minutes, and then Mom said that his attitude was GONE. She was amazed.  

I told her that: 

  1. She had been loving to Bill, which made ALL the difference. 
  2. She had immediately noticed the attitude and acted sooner instead of waiting for it to get worse.
  3. She gave him TWO opportunities to notice his attitude and change it—with words and a small consequence—before moving to something more serious. 
  4. Bill FELT that he was being given a choice, and he LIKED that. Every kid likes having choices over being forced to do something. 

Mom said, “His attitude was good for the rest of the day. All the rest. After the interaction with Bill, my daughter was whining about something, and I said, ‘Do you want to continue doing that?’ Keep in mind that she had SEEN my conversation with Bill. Immediately, with a wry smile, she said, ‘Nah, I’m done whining for now.’ And it was OVER. Miracle. Consequences work when I’m loving and consistent. Who knew?” 

Applying Consequences

  1. Love and teach.
  2. Then love and teach again.
  3. Then require your CHILDREN to tell you what they’re learning and give them a chance to change their perspective before moving on.
  4. If they refuse to choose wisely, you begin to apply consequences until you get their attention. 

For more detailed instruction on how to love and teach and apply consequences lovingly, sign up for the Ridiculously Effective Parenting Training.

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About the author 

Greg Baer, M.D.

I am the founder of The Real Love® Company, Inc, a non-profit organization. Following the sale of my successful ophthalmology practice I have dedicated the past 25 years to teaching people a remarkable process that replaces all of life's "crazy" with peace, confidence and meaning in various aspects of their personal lives, including parenting, marriages, the workplace and more.

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