Stop Fighting & Misbehaving with Consequences that Actually Work!

Tired of your kids fighting and misbehaving? Feel like you've tried everything with your toddlers? Check out our parenting tips for consequences that actually work!

We’ve all been there. Our kids misbehave, and nothing we say makes a difference in modifying their bad behavior. In fact, sometimes it seems that it makes things worse! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard my son mimic my lame attempts at consequences (he’s a big fan of counting to three, which only serves to infuriate me as he uses my words against me). How can you develop consequences that will actually work with your child?

  1. Only say it if you’re willing to follow through. When establishing consequences, it is critical that you are willing to follow through on it if your child doesn’t change his or her behavior. In one very heated situation, I took away treats for an entire month. It was hard, but I had to stick to my guns because I didn’t want my son to call my bluff. Saying something in the heat of the moment like “if you don’t stop calling your sister names, we’re not going to Grandma’s house” is only effective if you don’t go to Grandma’s house. If you do go to Grandma’s house, you are only further weakening your position for the future.
  2. Set the rules and appropriate consequences for each rule. Having a set of house rules is very helpful because it sets forth expectations for your child. Take it a step further and assign appropriate consequences for each rule. Perhaps you decide that one house rule is “We keep our hands and feet to ourselves.” If your child chooses to break the rule, the assigned consequence is no time on the tablet. By preparing your child for what will happen if a rule is broken (and following through on the consequence each time), he is much more likely not to break the rule.
  3. Involve your kids in making the rules and the consequences. Your kids are smart, and they know how they should behave. Ask them to participate when you make the house rules and attached consequences. Make sure your child understands the reason behind each house rule (safety, etc.) so they can think about what the appropriate consequence is for each.
  4. Don’t be a softy. Once the rules and consequences are set, you have to stick to them – every single time. The first time you waiver, your child questions the importance of the rule and consequence. You may see more rule-breaking at the beginning of putting this plan in place, but if you stick to it, you will quickly see the rules being followed.

Keeping calm in the midst of your child’s misbehaving is important and having a guidebook in place will make a huge difference. Your child will appreciate the process, as well, because you are asking for her opinion, showing her how valuable it is. Ultimately, she wants to be good! Helping her know what to expect if she makes bad choices gives her the freedom to make a good choice. And your relationship will be all the better for it!

Do you have any parenting tips for choosing consequences that actually work? Share in the comments!

18 thoughts on “Stop Fighting & Misbehaving with Consequences that Actually Work!”

  1. I always liked when my mom involved me in the punishment. Even though it still stunk, I still felt more in control of my behavior and consequences.

  2. Kristi Nelson Renner

    Great suggestions. Our issue here with tweens….almost teenagers is that it’s tough to find consequences now. They read a lot but seems wrong to take that away. Thankfully they get along more than not so it’s rare but agree sticking with rules and following through is key.

  3. Nicole Cochingco Escat

    I agree with parenting tips here! we have rules at home too and I believe you have to be stick to it so that your children will follow it!

  4. fantastic tips! Following through and not being a softy are so key – and where I struggle the most. I did it last night though. Felt like a meany, but she woke up super happy this morning and I think was ready to start listening.

  5. Jeanine @ sixtimemommy.com

    This is awesome. My girls who are 9 and 10, and only 10 months apart are CONSTANTLY at it. I have been trying everything I could think of and it just wasn’t working. Will be taking your tips!

  6. Melissa Chapman

    These are great motivators for me!! I am such a softy and my kids know it and take advantage! Definitely going to try and be stronger and follow through!

  7. These look like good steps to me. Although I am not a parent, I have many nieces and nephews and I can see various types of these steps being used and know some that are used are effective.

  8. Great tips! When my girls would fight, I would make them stop and give each other a hug. Usually squashed the bickering real quick.

  9. Christina Richard

    These are great tips and I’m going to work on this. I have a 1 and a 3 yr old and I’m pretty sure they just done hear anything that comes out of my mouth. Its really important to stay calm too.

  10. This worked for so long! Now he is 13 1/2, and far too smart. If I take his phone, and I have, I can’t track him! This worked when he was younger, and less so now, although counting to thee still comes in handy!

  11. Sticking to your consequences is key. It is really important not to bend the rules too much or it will confuse the kids.

  12. I’m tough on my kids so they don’t try me often. I love them up and spoil them a lot, but when I mean business I mean it. I think it’s a good balance to have. They listen to me and respect me and that matters.

  13. I love, love, LOVE this post! If you don’t find consequences that work, you’re looking at a long, frustrating battle for discipline.

  14. Stacie @ Divine Lifestyle

    This is a great post. It can be hard to find consequences that really work. Until you do, punishments can be hard.

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