Consequences were not my friend for most of my life, not for me, not for my children.
Consequences eluded me most of the time that my children were growing up. I believe that’s due most in part because of how I was parented. Consequences, punishments, feeling bad were the name of the game. Thankfully, my perspective has changed over the years. It is as if I have a new pair of glasses that allows me to see the world a bit different. That’s all it takes. A small ripple shifted my entire perspective.
Consequences are everywhere! Research says that 75-85% of behavior is determined by consequences. Now that is one big RIPPLE! Once I began watching this in myself and in classrooms, I got it or rather I am beginning to get it!
Consequences are meant to teach. What can I learn from this mistake? I am unable to learn anything when I feel bad about myself; it’s counterproductive. It is more about allowing myself or your child to sit with the strong feeling, taking responsibility for whatever choice made at that moment and then learning from it. It could be that I choose not to go to the gym or your child chooses not to do their homework. The learning comes from sitting with the strong feeling. What could I choose differently next time? It could be as simple as saying to myself, “I am not going to the gym today rather than I should go to the gym and then not go.” I believe this kind of thinking literally changes the chemistry in my brain because there is no judgement involved.
With your child, it is believing that your child can handle this feeling of OOPS, I should have done my homework because the consequence was a zero. The zero is the natural consequence. Now here is the trick. My old self would have “punished” my child which stole the opportunity for my child to learn. The consequence was a zero. You are there to coach your child. Reflective thinking with your child is critical. “What could you do differently next time? ”
Once you shift your thinking, consequences will be your friend. Make a Ripple in your family or in your classroom for this coming year. Look for those natural consequences and allow yourself, allow your child to sit with the moment and learn from the OOPS. It will be a gift that keeps on giving.
Who’s your new friend?