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Tweens & the Power of Natural Consequences

by Michele | September 1st, 2016 | Behavior, Tweens

11-12-year-old-sending-a-textPart of childhood is testing boundaries. The tween years are no exception to this. What am I allowed to do or not do becomes a more prominent thought for kids of this age. They’ve become more independent and have more outside influences, so they may try to expand their horizons- but not always in the best of ways.

If you’ve always parented with natural consequences as a theme, your tween should not be surprised by the repercussions of poor choices. If you haven’t utilized natural consequences, now is a good a time as any to start.

Why choose this style of parenting? There are many reasons. If your typical response to a poor choice or bad behavior is yelling or lectures, reflect for a moment. When your parents lectured you as a child, did you really listen? Probably not. If your response is to take away all privileges, what have the effects been? Sure, it may eliminate the bad behavior, but it also eliminates hope. Knowing that one wrong decision means losing all privileges may actually encourage your child to take bigger risks.

Parenting with natural consequences gives your child a better understanding of the results of her action. It also allows her to set the stage for her future independence. For example, your tween is supposed to text you when she and her friends arrive at the park after biking there unchaperoned. She forgets. Now she isn’t allowed to go to the park alone for a week because she didn’t follow directions. If she did remember to text you, thank her for being so responsible.

Another struggle that parents have with tweens is getting up for school. By this age, your tween should be getting up on his own on a school day. He should have a phone or alarm clock to wake him. If he is so late in getting up that he misses the bus or makes the carpool late, his bedtime will be earlier that night. Obviously you can’t make him sleep, but you can send him to bed without electronics. If his phone is his alarm, for that night he needs a clock to replace it.

Other similar consequences can be created for other behavioral issues. Just make sure that the effect is aligned with the cause. Thus, leaving lunch dishes on the counter doesn’t equal having to go to bed early, but may mean needing to wash dishes after dinner for a night or two.

On the opposite side, be sure to have natural consequences for good behavior. Is your tween awake and ready for school on time every day? Offer a later bedtime on weekends. Is she good about doing chores without reminders? Be sure to praise her. Is he responsible and lets you know when he arrives at a friend’s house? Maybe let him walk or bike to a friend’s that a little further away.

With continued reinforcement of consequences, your tween will learn that good choices equal more freedom and trust and poor choices equal more supervision and lack of privileges.

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