Positive and Negative Consequences are the Key to Effective Discipline

by Norris Law Group on April 11, 2014

disciplineMarjorie Cortez of the Deseret News writes in the March 26, 2014 edition about Denise Kimber and Jeanette Sayers, who teach parents skills to change the behaviors of troubled children as part of Utah Youth Village’s Family First program.

Kimber and Sayers conduct in-home interventions, spending anywhere from eight to 10 hours a week in a homes in which the children’s behavior is out of control due to anger or violence. Together, they teach parents to modify their children’s destructive behaviors and to maintain discipline without resorting to anger or corporal punishment.

Denise Kimber is quoted: “One of our goals as parents is to give children messages they understand…For instance, when a parent takes a young child to the grocery store, they need to communicate their expectations. She goes on to say that simply ordering a child to “be good” is too vague: “‘Good’ to a 30-year-old mother is not the same as ‘good’ to a 3-year-old kid.”

Explaining what “good” means (no hitting, yelling, biting, etc.) is much more effective.

Additionally, there should be negative consequences if and when children misbehave. But it is equally important to reward positive behavior, according to Sayers.  For example, if children misbehave, they could be given extra chores. But for positive behavior, rewards might include the right to choose a movie or an activity that the family can enjoy together.

They emphasize that positive or negative consequence should be implemented immediately and consistently. The consequence should also have real meaning to the child, Sayers said.

Finally, Kimber said that parents who level only negative consequences teach their children to avoid them as parents: “When you punish a lot, you become a negative consequence on your own.”

Attorney Graham Norris and his associates at the Norris Law Group serve the residents of Utah County and throughout Utah in the area of divorce and family law. Contact them today at 801-932-1238 or online for a free consultation.

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