Many people think that if consequences are not delivered immediately after kids have an outburst or misbehave, then they won’t learn from their mistakes. This myth is based on the idea that the impact of the consequences might be lost if time passes after the incident.
This view has led many parents to become frustrated and feel incompetent because they can’t think of appropriate consequences in the heat of the moment. They often don’t anticipate potential problems with the consequences that they provide. If the adult is too angry, they can lose control and do or say things that they wish they hadn’t.
Delaying consequences is a powerful technique that does two important things for parents. First, it gives the parent (or teacher) a chance to calm down. Then, it allows plenty of time to think of appropriate consequences. Later, when the consequences are delivered, the parent (or teacher) is prepared and can deliver the consequences effectively, with the most important element—empathy.
Whenever a kid misbehaves, and you don’t know what to do or you are too angry to think straight, delay the consequences by responding with something like:
Oh no, this is sad.
I’m going to have to do something about this.
We’ll talk later.
Later you can develop a plan that fits the misbehavior and make sure that the consequence is appropriate.
Appropriate consequences should fit the misbehavior; should focus on the kids’ poor choices, not on “bad” kids; and should avoid lectures, reminders, or guilt trips. Remember to always apply sincere empathy before providing consequences.
Delaying the consequences has the added benefit of giving kids time to mull over possible consequences for their misbehavior. This is one of the ways that Love and Logic helps kids learn to be responsible for their behaviors and decisions.
Our classic audio, Love and Logic Magic When Kids Drain Your Energy, describes our Energy Drain Technique in detail, as well as the importance and effectiveness of delaying consequences while using sincere empathy.
Thanks for reading!