How to Deliver consequences to Your Kids

Today is how to deliver consequences to your kids or how to make them matter. Now, this is going to be two different answers because I’m coming from the toddler perspective. Jeremy’s coming from the teenage and young adult perspective now at this point, tweens, teenage, young adult. But yeah, I think the one thing that we try to always keep in mind is that we’re always adapting and evolving and changing. For us with toddlers is a couple of things. One, I think especially with toddlers, the consequence has to be very fast and immediate. I don’t think there’s enough abstract mind to toddlers to do something a day later about what they did yesterday.


It’s usually got to be pretty quick. It’s got to be a quick feedback loop. That’s the first thing. And then two, another way that the language me and Alyssa use is it has to be their currency. So we actually have different consequences for different kids because here’s the reason, consequences are not for consequence sake. Discipline, consequences, all these different things are to mold and shape our kids in a gentle, loving, tender way towards the image that God has for them to be individually and on our family team. And it’s our job to steward that and shepherd that. Now to do that, you want when you discipline or have consequences for it to actually be something that works or something that actually is connected to what you’re trying to … something that takes them where they actually need to go.

And one main way to do that is make it their currency. And what I mean by that is it’s got to be something that hurts them, and Oh, I didn’t want that taken away. That hurts. I don’t like that. Or Oh man, I really wish we got to go to that but I guess that’s the consequence now, whatever it is. But it’s got to be something that they …so seek out your kids currency. What do they value? What motivates them? What makes their heart tick? And it’s been different for our kids. Sometimes it’s been a bunch of different things, but yeah. Jeremy, how would you talk about this in regards to now once you start getting older and why it matters so much?

Yeah. This is a big deal you guys. So when you’re delivering consequences to older children, one of the things that you have to be really careful of is that they could inadvertently learn don’t anger mom and dad during this time. Or if you throw out a consequence really fast, Hey, you’re grounded, this is going to happen to you. Bam, bam, bam. And then you come off of that or it did seem like it came out of anger. Then oftentimes what an older kid will learn is okay, that’s what happens when mom and dad are in a bad mood, how to tiptoe around you, how to play a game. So this is how I like to handle that. What do you really want is for when they get the consequence, they really feel bad about what they did. The whole point is to train them. It really isn’t to try to pay them back. This isn’t really about justice. It’s about training.

So how do you do that with older kids who are smarter who maybe will react a little bit more with bitterness over consequences? And one way I like to do this is separate the verdict from the sentence. So in any kind of court case, you’ll see that there’s always two procedures. There’s let’s get down to what actually happened, let’s all agree on the verdict. This is the facts. We all agree? Yes. Okay. Now what we do is once we get the facts, okay, now leave the room. And we’re going to talk about the sentence.

Like jury deliberation.

Yeah. There’s no emotional reaction and we’re not disagreeing about the verdict. And so we’ll spend a lot of time making sure the verdict is accurate. And so we’re all agreeing, right? This is what you did? Yeah. You knew the rule. Yeah. You broke it. Yeah. Okay, cool. Give me and your mom a couple minutes. We’ll talk about what we’re going to do.

Yeah. You almost want to lead them to the water?

And we design-

You have to almost get them to be so like yeah, that’s appropriate.

That’s right, exactly. That’s what you want. That’s the reaction that you want to get. And if you can get that, it’s super valuable for their training. Again, this is not about justice. I’m not trying to balance scales. Jesus did that for us and no one’s balancing my scales. But I do want to train my kids to be wise and so consequences are a critical part of that. So then me and April will talk and we’ll have this conversation like Jeff just described. What’s their currency? What’s a reasonable thing? Are there facts in the case that kind of mitigate a harsher sentence?

And then we bring them back in and then we deliver that. Hey guys, again, this is what we heard. This is what we agreed. Here’s the consequence. And a lot of times there’s details. This will end, you’ll get your phone back at this time. You can’t go outside until this point. Your curfew was changed. Whatever the consequence. You can’t go to this thing, this is why. But we need to put some time and thought into the consequence so that when we deliver it, it lands and that we stick with it. And so separating verdict from sentence, it takes a couple extra minutes, but it doesn’t feel as good as that knee jerk you’re grounded, whatever. But it’s way better if the point is to train your kids and get their hearts to align with the wisdom that you’re trying to train them to really absorb.

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