Logical consequences are often ineffective. Why? If the antecedents (triggers) or causes of the behaviour are strong, consequences don’t work. Antecedents can be hunger and fatigue or a life event, or simple immaturity.
If a child is too young to meet your desired behaviour, then a consequence is discouraging. If an event has been stressful, such as moving, changing schools, loss or any other challenging life event, the child needs understanding and support.
Yet, there are times when a follow-through is necessary. To create boundaries, we can focus on what we are willing and not willing to do. Healthy limits involve consideration, respect for privacy, things, space, bodies, and feelings, among others.
“Here is the limit and what I’m willing or not willing to do.”
Put the focus on yourself, your values and what you can control.
Hear the difference: “How dare you talk to me that way. You’re grounded for the weekend.” vs. “I’m not willing to be generous with my time and drive you to the mall when I experience being called names.”
The value is self-respect. “If you do your homework, I’ll give you some extra screen time.” vs. “It is your responsibility to get your schoolwork done each night, and I will not step in at the last minute if you haven’t completed your tasks.”
The value is taking responsibility for your own tasks. “If you don’t stop making all that noise, I’m sending you to your room.” vs. “I am going to have to go to another room because I can’t concentrate on this task while there’s so much noise.”
The value is considering other people’s need for quiet when they are working. “Stop fighting with your sister over that darn video game, or I’ll take it away.” vs. “I expect you both to figure out a plan to share the screen. If I come back in ten minutes and you are still arguing, I will keep the screens off for the rest of the day.”
This approach is taking control of yourself and your boundaries, and your actions. It takes some time to think things through to know what your limits are, what is reasonable and where you stand. When you can speak with authority over yourself and a tone of seriousness rather than reactive anger, boundaries are more likely to be respected.