Do you make these 2 mistakes that encourage bad behavior?

Peggy was excited. “You won’t believe what happened yesterday! A friend of mine has a private plane. He was going on a day trip and since Jeff was out of school he asked if he could take Jeff along. What a great opportunity. Of course I let him go. I think God must have arranged it. Isn’t that great? ”

All I could do in response to her question was shake my head and wonder what planet this woman came from. No! I didn’t think it was a great opportunity sent by the Lord.

I don’t think you will either when you know “the rest of the story.”

Peggy was a single mom whose son, Jeff, was a junior high student where I was principal. She was having problems disciplining her son so we agreed to work with her to help get him under control.

The day came when I had to suspend Jeff from school for a day. I met with his mom after school to make sure this would be the only time this happened.

“Peggy, we need you to work with us on this. You have to make tomorrow a totally miserable day for him – no TV, no fun, make sure he does the extra school work that we’re giving him and nothing else. Make it a totally boring, miserable day that he’ll never want to repeat. OK?”

She assured me she would but that was before “God sent this great opportunity”. She actually said, “Wasn’t it great he didn’t have to go to school? Otherwise he couldn’t have gone on the flight.”

 Don’t reward bad behavior.

 Because you read this blog I know you’re far too smart to do what Peggy did but there are a couple of more subtle ways we reward our kids for behaving badly.

  1. When we give up and give in to their demands.

Yes, it’s easier in the short run to cave in and give them what they’re whining, crying, screaming or fussing for. But parenting is a marathon, not a sprint. You can’t afford to do what’s easiest in the short run because I promise you it’ll create more and greater pain for you in the long run.

Often the path that’s easiest in the short run is more painful in the long run.

  1. When we bail them out of consequences for bad behavior.

I’ve had parents try to get their kids out of detention because they’ll miss baseball practice or some other important event. “Could they serve it tomorrow when it’ll be more convenient and that way they won’t miss anything?”

Consequences for bad behavior are supposed to be inconvenient!
Missing out on something important to them is what makes the consequence effective.

Behavior that is rewarded is behavior that will be repeated.
For their sake, let’s not reward our kids for bad behavior.

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  • Reply Laurissa April 23, 2016 at 2:39 am

    Love your blog! My husband and I just got into an argument over this! I always reward bad behavior unknowingly. And I bail my son out of consequences when my husband is trying to dicipline him. I’m trying to recognize it and stop doing it! Thanks for some insight!

    • Reply Rick Malm April 25, 2016 at 10:27 am

      Wow, Laurissa – Thanks for letting me know the posts are helping – not only your parenting but your marriage. 🙂
      It’s natural for a mom to want to buffer and protect a child. I think that’s one reason Paul said to Titus that older women need to teach younger women how to love their husband AND their children. We always think of “a mother’s love” as somehow the closest thing on earth to God’s love. Why would a woman need to learn how to love her children? I think it’s because God’s love has a strong element of discipline in it and allowing us to learn from consequences. The mom in this story actually thought she had done a good thing (or she would have never confessed to me with such enthusiasm).
      Keep up the good work – of working with your husband to train children who honor, respect and love you and the Lord.

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