As parents, most of us eventually reach a point in which we are so experienced at dishing out consequences that we can practically do it in our sleep. Impressive? Yes. However, despite this incredible ability, there is still an important factor that is often overlooked by busy and/or preoccupied parents…and that is what to do AFTER you have disciplined your child.
More often than not, parents neglect to follow up with what I consider to be the important final steps to disciplining a child: processing, forgiving, and allowing the child to “save face.”
Keep in mind that these steps may not be necessary for all children but when a particular child is emotionally charged (after receiving his or her consequence) then these steps may go a long way in remedying the situation and turning it into a learning experience.
STEP 1: Process the situation
Make sure that your child…
1) knows which behavior it is that led to the consequence
2) understands why his or her actions were inappropriate, unsafe, or unacceptable
3) discusses some of the better choices that could have been made, and finally,
4) make sure that your child offers an appropriate apology.
STEP 2: Forgive
Calmly express your disappointment with regards to his behavior…but be sure to let him know that he is forgiven and that you are confident he will make a better choice next time.
STEP 3: Allow Your Child to “Save Face”
Find a subtle but kind gesture that allows your child to maintain his or her dignity. Apologize if you over-reacted or lost your temper while giving the consequence, give a quick but meaningful hug, say “I love you,” offer a Kleenex if he or she has been crying, etc. Let your child know that you appreciate his or her ability to accept and/or follow through with the consequence (if applicable). Be careful not to “reward” your child for his negative behavior by offering a treat (or such) afterwards.
So there you have it…three “follow up” steps to take after dishing out consequences.