Teaching Children Consequences Begins at Home

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Teaching our children consequences to be successful

As a child care professional and working with children and parents forever (it feels like it) I have to say that the new parenting models don’t seem to be what children need for success in adulthood, school settings, and to instill boundaries that will keep them safe. As a parent it is up to you to make sure that your children understand consequences for their actions and what a healthy respect for authority is. I’m not suggesting that you should be an authoritarian parent but what I am saying is that being an indulgent parent is prohibitive in your child’s success in school and for teachers to be able to successfully teach your children and NOT have to spend the whole day explaining to children why they can’t do something. They have a class to teach not just your child. Boundaries and consequences need to start at home and with parents. Not only that, they need to begin early and BEFORE the child begins school whether it is daycare or elementary. Your child can’t be saying “NO” definitively to a care giver whether it is a teacher, parent, or child care provider just because they don’t want to do something. We all want to protect our children and some adults shouldn’t be trusted but if you teach your children what is acceptable for adults to do or act than they will know when it is appropriate to say “NO” definitively to an adult. Inappropriate touching is an example of when a child should say “NO” and run away.

How do we teach good boundaries and create appropriate consequences for behavior that isn’t acceptable? Of course “natural consequences” is good but you can’t just let a child run into the road and let them get hit by a car to show natural consequences (I’m exaggerating) but if they play rough with a family pet and the pet gives a nip or a scratch that is a natural consequence to the choice they made. Children do need to understand when they need to listen to adults.

It has become more and more difficult to babysit children. If you have a 3 year old and a 1 year old and you’re trying to wrangle them into a space that will be safe for both of them you can’t have a child scream at you that they don’t want to when the 1 year old is toddling away towards the road. You don’t have time to explain to the 3 year old why you need to relocate to a space that isn’t close to the road. You just need their cooperation as you dash toward the 1 year old. I’ve actually heard teachers say that it is becoming more and more difficult to be a teacher because they are spending the majority of their time discussing with one child why they can’t do what they want to do and compromising with one child while the other 15 children in the classroom are being ignored as well as the lesson plan being ignored due to this one child.

Studies show that indulgent parenting results in children who feel entitled wherever they go—at school, at church, at stores—and who demand for practically everything they want because of the excessive freedom bestowed upon them.


I have been pushed, pinched, hit, held captive by a child not wanting to leave a playground when it was time. I’ve been screamed at for over an hour because it was bedtime and when I say screamed I mean SCREAMED! You might say to yourself what is a little screaming or be the grownup here and make the kid do it but if parents have always given into this behavior and ultimately give in to what the child is doing to get their way a child care provider has no recourse. If consequences aren’t taught in the home then others can’t fulfill their duties adhering to safety and obligations like bedtimes, food, walks, etc. A parent can’t expect a childcare professional to be able to follow the rules if they themselves don’t expect their children to follow the rules or expectations of the home, the classroom or the teacher and ultimately laws that govern society once they grow up.

I understand that parenting is more than hard. I know we all love our children and want them to have a happy childhood but if we indulge our children because we don’t want to fight with them to get them to clean their room etc. we are just going to make it harder for them to succeed and adjust to rules in the future and hard on ourselves as they approach the teenage years because it won’t get any better as they get older. Testing limits is what childhood is all about but it is up to parents to educate children as to what limits are, why they are in place, and how they are enforced.

If you do the parenting now it will be easier for you and your children in the future. Their won’t be an argument about eating, bedtimes, cleaning their rooms etc because you taught them limits/consequences when they were young. It’s not a bad thing.