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#60: Moving from consequences to rewards

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When giving Effective Negative Consequences, there are things that parents should never use as these are basic rights that children are entitled too. They are common sense things but include access to healthy foods, clothing, education, safety, shelter, and sleep.

When giving effective consequences, it’s essential to make sure you are not infringing on their rights. Taking away fundamental rights will create considerable problems in your relationships and could have other, unforeseen, consequences.

There are things that kids would like to tell you are basic rights that aren’t. Access to cell phones, video games, computer time, time with friends, use of the car, fancy clothing, or junk food are not basic rights. Those things are privileges and absolutely could be used as an Effective Negative Consequence.

This means you can’t withhold dinner, which is a basic right, but you could withhold a dessert or treat as those aren’t basic rights.

When making Consequences Effective, it’s important to use the five components of the behavior skill of Effective Negative Consequences. We discussed the five components in Episode #55.  We discussed the five components of Effective Positive Rewards in Episode #56. Review those podcast if you need help making rewards or consequences effective.

While Effective Negative Consequences are valid and needed, parents will find that Effective Positive Rewards is more powerful in increasing positive behavior.

Every time a parent gives a child a consequence, they are creating a divide between their themself and their child. Shifting from a negative mind frame (Effective Negative Consequences) to a positive mind frame (Effective Positive Rewards) will be more beneficial in increasing positive behavior.

Effective Positive Rewards shows a child what they can gain by behaving a certain way, and that is much more powerful than what they could lose.

For example, if your child struggles with doing their homework, telling them they could earn 30 minutes of screen time is more effective than saying they’d lose 30 minutes of screen time.

Effective Positive Rewards helps a child take ownership of their behavior, especially if they have a say in what rewards they can earn.

Many parents have found our free Behavior Contract to be effective in giving child ownership of their behavior as it spells out the four rewards or the one consequence a child could earn.

It will take an effort to move from a mind-frame of consequences to rewards, but we promise that it will be worth the effort. 

For questions about making rewards or consequences effective in your situation, sign-up for a free 15-minute ADHD Parenting Coaching mini-session.

Sign-up for a free 15-minute ADHD Smarter Parenting Coaching mini-session: https://www.smarterparenting.com/adhd-parenting-podcast/

Help the ADHD Smarter Parenting Podcast continue. Donate today! https://www.smarterparenting.com/donate-now/

Episode Transcript

This is episode 60.

In this episode, we will be discussing child rights and Effective Negative Consequences. So let’s begin.

Smarter Parenting welcomes you to our podcast series, The Parenting Coach for ADHD. Here to heal and elevate lives is your Parenting Coach, Siope Kinikini.

Hello everyone. I hope everybody is doing great. How are you? I am doing fantastic, and today we will be discussing child rights and Effective Negative Consequences. Now, I’ve already talked about Effective Negative Consequences in a podcast. A previous podcast. I invite you to go back and listen to that because there some great information in there. Now the reason that we are talking about it again so soon, after releasing that, I received some questions about Effective Negative Consequences. And during the discussion, with one of the free coaching sessions, that we offer here at Smarter Parenting, and if you haven’t signed up, please do. One of the questions that I had from a mother was, “Well my child, I want to use a food as a consequence for my child’s misbehavior.” And so, that started this conversation about child rights and what your child is entitled too.

Now, these are common sense things and a lot of parents probably have already anticipated and understand, but your child does have a right to nourishment, to food and to nourishment. Your child also has a right to education. Being able to be educated and learn. They have a right to food, shelter, clothing, and protection from harm. These are basic rights that your child has.

When you’re structuring an Effective Negative Consequence, you want to be very mindful that you’re not infringing on any of these rights for your child, right? Safety, you don’t ever want to do a consequence that would put your child in danger. You don’t want to take away nourishment from them if they are misbehaving as a consequence. Now, regardless of their behavior, there are other consequences, Effective Negative Consequences that you can use.

Now with the mother that I was discussing this issue with, her idea was they’re not going to do their chores and clean the kitchen and set the table, then they’re not going to have dinner. Now, during our coaching session, we started to discuss child rights and what the child is entitled to. They are absolutely entitled to nourishment. If your child is malnourished then that is definitely an issue that would bring in other people to remove your child from your care because you as a parent need to be sure that your child is receiving nourishment. The mother then discussed, well, it’s just one meal, it’s not going to be a big deal. Again. I’m like, well, let’s explore some other options. Let’s explore something else other than taking away something that may possibly be on the border of what your child absolutely has a right to which is nutritious food.

We came up with the idea that instead of taking away a dinner, that we would take away a dessert. A dessert, for example, like ice cream. That’s not nourishment really. I mean, for me it is. I love ice cream. In fact, mint chocolate chip is my favorite. I love it, but it’s not nourishing food and it’s not one that sustains life. We agreed that yeah, she would actually have a dessert ready for the child if they’re able to complete what she’s asking them to do and instead of taking away dinner we would take away the dessert, which is something that’s extra. Now that probably sounds like it makes a lot of sense to a lot of parents. At least it makes a lot of sense to me to do something more like that that doesn’t infringe on a child’s rights. When you are structuring your Effective Negative Consequences, keep in mind that you are not going to move in the areas of infringing on your child’s rights but there are creative ways that you can do it.

You would never ever put your child in harm. Now the beauty of the Teaching-Family Model, which is what we use on Smarter Parenting and the skills that we teach, these are all focused on building relationships. This is where I think it’s super important for parents to understand. You can establish a consequence that actually creates a divide between you and your child. If you’re not careful, consequences can actually rip your relationship apart, and so consequences can either help you in teaching your child a new behavior or it can cause a division. We want to focus on being respectful of children and their rights and letting them know that they have those rights and also implementing consequences that will be effective. Now, we’re talking a lot about consequences. I will tell you 100% of the time that if you’re able to approach a situation on the positive side of it that you’re going to be far more effective.

Positive Reward and a focus on a Positive Reward is more powerful to change a child’s behavior than an Effective Negative Consequence. I have actually given you permission to look at positive ways that we can reinforce the behavior rather than delving into the negative. That’s going to take a lot of introspection on the part of you as a parent. Are you approaching problems from a positive or negative?

I will tell you, implementing consequences is one of those things that a lot of parents struggle with because we’re trying to balance those five elements that we’ve talked about. If you haven’t listened to the podcasts, go back and listen to it. There are five elements that make Effective Consequences powerful and work, right? We’re balancing those. We’re also trying to be sure that our child’s needs are being met. We’re not infringing upon any of their right. Right?

We’re thinking, but why not flip that and actually focused on the positive? What are the positive things that they would be able to get from a certain behavior rather than what are the consequences if they don’t follow through with the behavior or for the negative behavior? We’re focusing on what the child should do, not on what the child shouldn’t do and the consequences that lead up to it.

I’m going to give some examples of some areas where you can think about what an Effective Negative Consequence could be and possibly work, but on the flip side, this also works for Effective Positive Rewards. You can use time, more time to do something your child likes, either limiting the time which would be an Effective Negative Consequence or actually allowing more time, which would be a positive reward, time. Then some of the additional things like for example, desserts. Those are not mandatory. It’s not vital for nutrition. You need to provide them with that.

You have to give them education, you have to give them love, supportive environment. You need to be there for your child. These are the things that are child rights. These are things that would keep a government agency from coming into your home and saying, we need to remove this child because you’re not meeting the basic rights this child has or the needs that this child has. Keep in mind those things but pay attention to time, allowing your child more time to do something for a positive behavior or limiting the time. The ultimate goal of Effective Positive Rewards and Effective Negative Consequences is that we are actually teaching to our child. We’re teaching them to shape the behavior. Don’t get so caught up on the behavior itself as the idea that we are trying to teach them a new way of being and a new way of behaving.

The ultimate goal of any reward or any consequence is that we shape a behavior so it can be more positive. That is the ultimate goal of implementing all of this. If you get so hung up on the actual behavior, you’re going to get lost and it’s going to become a battle between you and your child. If your focus is, I’m doing this in order to teach a behavior so we can either reduce the behavior or increase the positive behavior, then you’re actually more apt to make adjustments and changes and be more successful in implementing these things. Again, when you’re sitting down and you’re trying to come up with effective negative consequences, what you’re going to do if your child behaves a certain way. Also, take time to make a list on the side of what behavior you do want your child to do in that situation and then the possible rewards that they can receive from it.

I’ve shared this in a previous podcast, but I think it’s important to share here only because I’ve used it a couple of times with the families that I’ve worked with when we’re dealing with Effective Negative Consequences and Effective Positive Rewards and it’s, it’s proven to be very helpful and very powerful for the families. In this, what we do is we actually take a sheet of paper and the parent will write down the behavior that they would like. Then we have the child actually fill in three or four positive rewards that they can receive following the five elements that make effective positive rewards work. Say, for example, the mother wants the child to attend school every day for a week, then we put that at the top and then the child chooses rewards. Now for an older child, it’d be like, well, at the end of the week if I can do this, then I will have free time with friends. I’ll be able to play my video games uninterrupted.

Video games, that’s another one that’s not essential for living. You can use that as Effective Negative Consequence or Effective Positive Reward. Anyways, so the child can list down three or four positive rewards they can receive if they follow that behavior. Now, remember, we’re focused on the behavior that we want them to do. Now after they fill out those four positive rewards, you take a look at it with your child and you’re like, wow, you can earn a lot of things if you are able to do this. Now, think of what that means for the child to see that and say, wow, if I do this one thing, I have a lot more options of things that I can do that I enjoy or I can receive. Right? Now underneath that, you’re going to put one line and then the parent puts down, and this is up to the parent to put down a consequence if they are unable to follow the agreed-upon behavior.

Now when the child looks at that visually and through this exercise of doing it as a family, the child sees, wow, I can actually receive more positive things by following through with this behavior than I can if I do not follow this behavior. This is going to be super effective for children with ADHD. When you think about your child’s misbehavior and their inability to focus and adjust to changing dynamics that are around them, the ability for them to have multiple rewards for one behavior is going to be huge for them because that is where the motivation comes in. I have mentioned this before and I’ve talked to other professionals who’ve noticed this. Children with ADHD have a lack of focus, they do, and they have hyperactivity and it’s very difficult. However, when they are invested and interested in something, they can actually focus. They can focus on certain things. By you laying down a specific behavior and then having four or five, three, four, five positive rewards, that helps him to uber focus on why this behavior is important to them, it is.

Now, once you actually fill out this form with your child, then you both sign it and you agree. Agree to everything that is on it. For younger children, I would say do the positive behavior per day because you want to reward them immediately and you want to provide the consequence immediately. For older children, you could do up to a week depending on your child, and you’re going to know what you need to do to do that. That is one way that we start to implement that and that I’ve used with families in working with them to establish positive rewards and Effective Negative Consequences, by actually focusing more on the positive.

Now in doing this, I am always mindful of the child’s rights. We’re not taking away anything that they absolutely have a right to, which is nourishment, food, shelter, clothing, education, safety. I mean all those things we have to be sure that they are receiving and we should never try and mess around with those things or use those things as consequences.

I’m here to tell you, be very cautious and aware when you’re creating these Effective Negative Consequences and these Effective Positive Rewards that you’re using the five elements. A shift in the focus to more of the positive will actually yield more results, actually, result in faster changes in your child. This is why I feel so passionate about the Teaching-Family Model. It’s because these skills are really meant to build relationships with your children. It’s meant to teach to your children and it’s this idea that, hey, we can work on this together and we’re not going to get hung up on specific behaviors, but we’re going to work through these behaviors to improve your happiness and your ability to function as a child and as you become an adult. It was a great conversation I had with the mother about what we could implement as a consequence when she, we decided to use desserts because desserts, that’s not nourishment.

We use that. She reported later, yeah, it was effective. They were able to do that. Now notice how we use something smaller rather than something huge. If you watch the video on Effective Negative Consequences, you’re going to learn that we’re only seeking to teach to our child. We’re not looking to provide these huge consequences that are punishing both to the child and to the parent. We’re actually trying to use consequences that will teach. We want to teach. We want to help a child understand what they need to do, how they need to do it, and why they need to do it. That’s it for me for this week, but I hope you take into consideration child rights. Keep those in mind. Also, keep in mind how to structure some Effective Consequences, and how to actually probably focus more on the positive.

That actually is going to be where most of the power is. I suggest that you use that technique with your child to focus on the positive behaviors and also rewards that they can receive. Now, I do need to make this disclaimer in this whole process, the child does not receive all of those rewards. They can only choose one of those rewards. Okay? Only one. It’s not like they’re going to receive all five rewards that they write down. No, they can only choose one of those and it has to be pre-approved and pre-agreed upon by you and your child as you sign the contract. You have some say in this, you have some say as a parent to say, no, that’s too big. No, we can’t do that, but let’s try something else. Play with it. This is where the artistic side of using these skills comes in.

You as a parent are going to have to shape this and help your child learn these things, these concepts, but you’re going to be able to do that because you know your child, you absolutely know your child. Now, this is also a plug for you to call in if you have questions about this. Call in, set up a 15-minute free consultation. We can have a free mini-session for 15-minutes. You sign-up on the Smarter Parenting website and you can ask me any question and I will answer it and we will work through it.

If I don’t know the answer, there’s so many agencies around the world using this exact Model of shaping behaviors, we can access and work through and find answers that you will need. However, I’ll be honest with you, I’ve worked with so many families throughout the years. I most likely will know exactly what you will need, but of course, I’m always learning. You’re always learning. That’s the beauty of this. Go ahead, jump over to the Smarter Parenting website and sign up for a free 15-minute coaching session. I would be happy and excited to talk to you about what we can do to help you and your child. That’s it for me and I’ll see you again next time. All right. Bye.


Ep #36: Relationships–the why of the Teaching-Family Model

Ep #40: When do I need ADHD Parenting Coaching

Ep #41: How I coach parents of kids with ADHD

Ep #55: Reducing bad behavior with Effective Negative Consequences

Ep #56: Reinforcing good behavior with Effective Positive Rewards

Ep #58: The Teaching-Family Model is relationship focused

Ep #59: The ADHD Smarter Parenting Coaching process

Behavior skills of the Teaching-Family Model

Reward contract

Free 15-minute ADHD coaching mini-session

Podcast sponsor Utah Youth Village

Support the ADHD Smarter Parenting Podcast. Donate.

Podcast Transcript

The transcript text is below. You can also download the PDF file of the transcript here.