Parenting Coach

Practical ideas for social, emotional and behavioral challenges

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When setting rules, set penalties too.

What you can do

Be clear when establishing rules what the consequences will be for breaking them. Write down the rules and consequences so your child can review them.

Make sure the consequences target the bad behavior and not the whole child. Try to avoid taking away activities that relate to her special talents or interests. The same logic applies to grounding her. That’s because doing so would remove her for long periods of time from situations that feed into her positive self-image or peer relations.

What you can say

“Sofia, you brought the car back later than the time we agreed on. That’s why you’re losing your car privileges this Saturday. Hopefully next time you’ll follow the rules. I know you want to stay out till midnight. But your curfew is 11:15, and it will remain at 11:15 until you can show me you’re responsible and can follow through on the standards we agreed to.”

Why this will help

Kids with learning and attention issues respond best when they feel they’re being treated fairly. If the rules you write down make it clear that anyone who breaks curfew will lose car privileges for one weekend, then your child won’t feel like she’s being singled out.

Also, spelling out the consequences will help drive home the message that your child has the ability to comply with these rules and that the difference between success and failure lies in the choices she makes.

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