As parents, do you ever get the feeling that God wanted us to have children, so they could train us? God truly does have a sense of humor!
The saying goes, "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink," but in reality when you bring a horse to water, you don't have to make him drink, you just have to make him thirsty.
Our children cannot be punished into right behavior. Setting up consequences as a response to inappropriate behavior has great benefits. Consequences should make your child thirsty to want to do right. Simply deal with the behavior.
The younger you begin training your children, the easier your life will be later on! The Bible says in Proverbs 22:6 - Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not turn from it.
Below are just a few suggestions to help you set some rewards and consequences into place ahead of time for your children.
Ages 5-9 - When you want something to happen or to stop, be firm and clear. Mean what you say, and say what you mean. If your child responds negatively, do not negotiate with him/her. Have an appropriate consequence set in place. Moms, do not be afraid of appearing powerless if your child responds negatively.
Suggestions for consequences: Go to bed early, losing computer or TV time, additional chores, loss of their favorite activity etc.
Rewards for obedience: Staying up late, additional computer & TV time, getting to play a favorite game, getting to go to an event or activity, having someone do a chore for you.
Ages 10-14 - Most children at this age are practicing independence, while still requiring a great deal of parental supervision and support. Connecting to their friends is very important to them.
Suggestions for consequences: Losing TV and computer time, grounded from activities, losing their phone privileges, not getting to do something with a friend, going to bed early.
Rewards for obedience: TV & phone privileges increase, staying up later, going to a friend's house, choose what to have for dinner, spending one-on-one with parent doing a special activity, earn a trip to the mall.
Ages 15-17 - At this age, they are trying new things and building new skills, working on independence. Their priorities center around their friends.
Suggestions for consequences: Not getting to drive, not getting to drive with friends, losing access to the car privileges, being grounded, loss of cell phone use, paying for damaged item, not allowed to have friends over etc.
Rewards for obedience: Car privileges, staying out later, allowed to go to an event, using the car to go to a part-time job, allowed to go with a friend etc.
Give your kids a heads up of your plan to enforce the rewards and consequences plan. I would recommend doing this during a relaxed time, when you are not in the middle of a crisis. Define what you would like your child to do, and what you expect from them, and follow through with what you say. Teach them to problem solve, rather then thinking for them.
Be patient with yourself and your child, especially if this is the first time you are setting rewards and consequences into place.
Your results will depend greatly on whether or not you stay true to your word to your kids, being consistent in the consequence & reward system that you set up for them.
Remember you are their teacher, your children are watching and learning from you. So please don't say to them "Do as I say, not as I do". The number one way to change behavior is through modeling. Who we are is more important than what we say.
The fun part is that each child is different, and as parents, we get to figure out what encourages or motivates each one. We must constantly rely on God to help us and show us what each of our children need. He is a faithful God. In my eyes, there was no greater joy on earth then raising my kids.