This site provides information using PDF, visit this link to download the Adobe Acrobat Reader DC software.

Pause for Parenting: The truth about consequences

By Renee Mattson

Many times parents ask me for “some good consequences.” What they really want to know is “What are some good ways I can really punish my kid in negative ways to stop their behaviors.” I rarely give them a list of anything and instead I simply say to PAUSE and listen to your child during their day to day interactions with you. 

They are telling and showing you what is important to them… what they want to add into their life, what they would rather not have to do. Use these things they spout off at you as leverage, and PAUSE to write things down on a list (a leverage list) so that you can remember what these things are when you are in need of a good consequence. Of course every family and every child within the family will have their own list of things that are leverage because the leverage list is personal to the child. This list is also very fluid and ever changing as the child grows into new interests and you find out more things that make him “tick.”

Once you have begun this list it can be a good reminder to PAUSE in the moment when you are about to dole out a consequence. Instead of quickly yelling out what you are going to take away or how many weeks they are grounded, PAUSE and simply say, “I am not sure what the consequence of this behavior will be…I am thinking about it and I will let you know when I have decided how this will go.”  Then use this PAUSE to think about what is most important to your child, what is connected to the incident at hand or simply what is on their leverage list and can be used against them to discourage that behavior from happening again.

This PAUSING into your consequence decision making helps you regain a little power in the push and shove of the situation and silences the child as they wonder what might happen next. A little suspense and wonder never hurt a parent child relationship it only keeps everyone on their toes.

Finally going to the leverage list when you catch them being good is essential. Use the leverage list to help you when you notice something or some moment when you have see them grow. For example you might say, “I know you have been wanting to go to that college basketball game with Daddy. Big boys who make big boy choices and show that they can be patient and behave are able to do big boy things like go to basketball games.” Or, “I noticed your big boy patience and good choice making, and I want to take you to the basketball game with me next week.”  

Of course PAUSING to spend time with our kids is the best leverage to use so this is the perfect positive consequence to help the positive behavior repeat again and again. 

Renee Mattson


About Renee Mattson
Renee Mattson, M.Ed, founder of Child in Bloom has been a featured presenter at the Early Childhood Education Symposium hosted annually by The Summit Country Day School. Her “Pause for Parenting” talks offer practical strategies on how to be more positive in parenting.