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Teaching your children about consequences

by Luqmaan Rawat

Johannesburg – From time to time your child will do things that you either like or dislike. The consequences that follow will either reinforce that behaviour or discourage it. It is therefore very important to take the right steps to get the right results.

Adults understand what consequences are. Children on the other hand do not. Consequences is the final feeling we have when we have done something. That feeling of happiness or feeling disgruntled. To explain to a child what it is one needs and the reason behind it, said Victorine MbongShu, Parenting expert.

 “Communication is very important. It is important that as parents before we even talk about consequences, we should talk about the reason you have been given a child, to direct that child and guide that child. Start by giving those explanations and once that child has understood that they will understand that consequences are what you get as a punishment or reward for your action.”

 The difference between consequences and punishments

From the outside there seems to be no difference between a consequence and a punishment. However, there is a clear difference between both, explained MbongShu.

“Consequence could mean a positive or a negative if you look at it in loose terms. Punishment is just negative. In every way it is negative. When you tell someone, you have punished your child they will raise their eyebrow. If you say that is the consequence of what the child has done, you get a mild response. It can be a good thing or a bad thing.”

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Making consequences more effective

 A punishment or consequence needs to be effective to actually have a meaningful change on a child. It needs to be able to either promote or discourage a child from doing something. It is important to communicate with your child. It is also imperative that you do not do the same action in front of your child that you don’t want them to do, said MbongShu.

“You cannot be drinking in the presence of your child, sending them to get it for you and then telling the child you are not supposed to drink alcohol until a certain age. Then you punish the child for drinking alcohol. If you told a child not to do something and then they did, you can now look at what consequences you want them to face. If you are not communicating you won’t have the power to speak to your child directly. If you are not doing the right things, you don’t have the power to speak to your child directly.”

Handing out consequences to children of different ages

Having children of different ages can be a problem. Your older child will be able to do things that your younger child cannot. One needs to explain to their child why they are receiving a harsher punishment or a better reward than the other child. Communication is essential.

 “They have different needs at different times. We have to experience, learn and practice how to customise every single thing that we give our children to shape various independent children … I’d recommend to parents that no child should be treated like the other. Every child should be treated independently.”

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Every child reacts differently to different punishments

Every child is different and will react in different ways to consequences. It is important to understand each child and treat them as a separate person. What will work on one child may not necessarily work on another.

“There is a child that will appreciate and react if you strike them. There is a child that will react and never do it again. Whereas there is a child that if you just say ‘come here’ by raising your voice they would also react and never do it again. Understand children, understand their characters, and understand their reaction to consequences.”

 There are many different methods to teach your children about the consequences of their actions. It is best to see which one they respond to positively and use that. Treat every child differently as everyone will react differently to certain methods.

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