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Consequences That Fit

Dad disciplining child

If your Tween exhibits behavior that threatens his or her safety or affects the whole family, what can you do to handle the situation effectively?

First, seek immediate help if the behavior is truly threatening. Once the crisis is averted and after ensuring everyone's safety, the first thing you should do is sit down and talk. Try to identify "things" your child values. This may include bicycle time, controlling the music choices in the car or freedom to stay up until a certain time. These "things" are your tools. When you know what these tools are, use them as rewards and consequences.

You can reward your child by increasing his or her curfew. As a negative consequence, you can make curfew a half-hour earlier. The important thing to remember is that consequences should fit the situation. Too often parents respond to a child's misbehavior with too harsh a punishment. A child grounded for a month for a minor offense may have trouble seeing the end of such a punishment and may lose all incentive to improve his or her behavior. Beyond being appropriate, consequences should be immediate. An immediate consequence makes it clear to your child what behavior caused the reward or punishment.

Try not to let your child's behavior be the measuring stick as to how you feel about your parenting. Stay focused on fixing the behavior.