Consequences given to a child should be in accordance with the child’s attention span. The less the attention span, and the greater the impulsivity of the child, the sooner the consequence should follow. Also, if a child has a low attention span, the duration of the consequence should also be low. The consequence is only helpful as long as the child is still learning from it. On this note, if a child is throwing a tantrum, the consequence should continue until the tantrum has ceased.
Different children respond to different consequences. You may have to experiment a little before you find a consequence that helps. Be creative, but not abusive. Many parents resort to paying their child to be good. Although this idea seems nice on the surface, it tends to teach the children that they are to act good because they get something, instead of acting good because they are a good person.
Jamie had two children. One child was twelve and one was eight. The twelve year old was a girl and the eight year old was a boy. The twelve year old had a calm and relaxed personality. The eight year old had a hyper and impulsive personality. The eight year old was constantly getting into trouble. The twelve year old spent a lot of time in her room reading books.
Jamie wanted to use the same rules on everyone in the house. She did not want to be unfair. When the twelve year old got into trouble, Jamie would not allow her to go out with friends on the weekends. This always seemed to work. When the eight year old got into trouble, Jamie did not allow him to go out on the weekend either. This did not seem to work for the boy at all. Jamie was confused about why the boy’s consequences did not work.
One day Jamie noticed that she had a very different personality from her boss. Jamie loved excitement. Her boss seemed to enjoy the calmness of her office. Jamie was in charge of the company maintenance because she had to always be on her feet. Jamie hated to be in offices. Her boss was salary and received a paycheck once a month. Jamie liked being paid weekly and by the hour. She liked the immediate reward for her labor. Jamie also knew that if she was salary, she probably would not come into work on time. Getting paid by the hour, kept her disciplined.
As Jamie thought about the differences between her and her boss, she began to think about the differences between her oldest and youngest child. Her daughter could learn from delayed consequences. Her son easily forgot about why he was in trouble, five minutes after he was in trouble. Delayed consequences did not seem to make an impact on him at all. Her daughter rarely got into trouble and seemed to have a lot of self-control. Her son got into trouble about every thirty minutes.
Jamie decided to try an experiment. She knew that her son would spend the rest of his life being impulsive and hyper. He was too much like her. She also knew that he would gradually learn to gain self-control if given enough opportunities. Jamie decided to give her son more opportunities to gain self-control. She thought she could maximize those opportunities by giving him several short term consequences.
When Jamie came home, she started giving her boy one minute time outs in the corner for all of the small mistakes that he made. Every time he made a poor decision, and got into trouble, she would immediately send him to the corner. She did this over and over again. Jamie did not notice an immediate change, but gradually her son began to exhibit self-control. The first day she changed her method of discipline, her son was getting a time out about every 8 minutes. Over time, he could go a whole hour without receiving a time out. Jamie noticed that her daughter seemed to understand that she was different and did not mind the difference in discipline styles. Jamie hoped that by maximizing the opportunities to learn, her son would learn to control his behavior faster than she did, when she was a kid.