Teaching Kids to Deal with Consequences

Teaching Kids to Deal with Consequences

“For every action there is an equally powerful reaction.”

What scientists have known for centuries many children seem to have difficulty understanding.

Now, why is that?

Well, I’m no scientist, but I do have a theory on this issue. Children do not learn about consequences because their parents never teach them that such consequences could ever occur.

Every family will thrive better when there are established limits and consequences for behavior. Parents will enjoy the company of maturing children…and their kids will be better off having learned valuable life lessons about the potential dangers of risky behavior.

In his outstanding book, The Keys to Your Child’s Heart, Gary Smalley discussed a survey that polled linguists, pastors, teachers, and medical doctors. Those men and women were asked about the influences that led to their vocational choices and why they became successful in their respective fields. All said they came from homes with clearly defined limits – in other words, their parents let them know without question that there would be consequences for behavior they deemed unacceptable.

Over the years, Cathy and I found that it was easier for us to actually list as many rules, limits, and expectations as we could for our kids. That way, if the girls begged me for a new puppy (which they did – often and with great passion!), there were no surprises when one of them faced consequences for not picking up after this “adorable” little mutt.

We liked to keep “The Burns’ Rules” posted on the refrigerator so everyone could see them. We first drafted them when the girls were 8, 6, and 4 respectively, so they were updated several times to keep them age appropriate.

Each “rule” was followed by its own “reward” for successfully upholding the rule. There was also a corresponding “consequence” for failing to meet the standard.

After employing “The Burns’ Rules,” our family enjoyed a tremendous sense of unity… because we were literally all on the “same page.” Sure, there were times when a rule was broken. But, when it was, the consequences were clear and easy to enforce.

Life is all about choices and consequences. Teaching your kids to make the right choices and helping them understand the consequences when they don’t will help you help them become the men and women God is calling them to be!

Help us reach the next generation of families

Back to Top
Avatar photo

Jim Burns

Jim Burns is the president of HomeWord. He speaks to thousands of people around the world each year. He has close to 2 million resources in print in 20 languages. He primarily writes and speaks on the values of HomeWord, which are: Strong Marriages, Confident Parents, Empowered Kids, and Healthy Leaders. Some of his most popular books are: Confident Parenting, The Purity Code, Creating an Intimate Marriage, Closer, and Doing Life with Your Adult Children. Jim and his wife, Cathy, live in Southern California and have three grown daughters, Christy, Rebecca, and Heidi; three sons-in-law, Steve and Matt, and Andy; and three grandchildren, James, Charlotte and Huxley.

  • About HomeWord

    HomeWord helps families succeed by creating Biblical resources that build strong marriages, confident parents, empowered kids and healthy leaders. Founded by Jim Burns, HomeWord seeks to advance the work of God in the world by educating, equipping, and encouraging parents and churches. Learn More »

  • Support Our Mission

    HomeWord is non-profit, donor supported ministry. If you would like to partner with HomeWord in our effort to help more parents and families you can make a donation. Your investment will allow us to expand this ministry by offering more resources to families and churches in need.

  • Contact Information

    • HomeWord
      PO Box 1600
      San Juan Capistrano, CA

    • Send us an email

    • 800-397-9725
      (M-F: 8:30am-5pm PST)