Discipline:  Should I Use Unexpected Consequences?

One of the kids was incredibly recalcitrant this morning – argumentative, disrespectful and manipulative.  So I handled things.  But did I do enough and should I lay on further this evening?

The child didn’t like the clothing options since his favorites weren’t yet washed.  The poor behavior blossomed until he’d missed his opportunity for breakfast and I refused to take him to school; he’d have to catch the bus like any other morning.  For those moments when he’d refuse to do something – put on left sock, put on right sock, put on left shoe, put on right shoe – I’d have to force the appropriate action by warning of the consequence if I had to count three on him.  I’d then count and each time I hit three, the consequence would go into effect.  In this case, the consequence was an additional fifteen minutes earlier bedtime.  As of this moment, he’ll be lights out 75 minutes earlier than another typical night.

The earlier bedtime is effective with this case since he enjoys the family time/sibling interaction.  The days are warmer and longer and there’s more opportunity for fun – tossing ball, riding scooter, the typical little kid stuff.  But this behavior has been ongoing for several weeks and I can’t always tell what’s going to trigger it.  Yes, if I know that something is a trigger for a child, I do try to avoid it since kids are not rational creatures and I don’t believe in provocation. 

My question pertains to tonight.  One of the prime behavioral criteria in this house is that there are consequences for actions.  If this pattern of behavior has been on-going and I really want to drive a point home, do I purposefully suggest to Mom that she take the other kids for a treat while I stay home with the kid?  Taking the kids for a treat didn’t occur to me until a few minutes after the bus left and honestly, the scenario arose as I was pondering how to really drive the point of consequences home.  But is it fair to hit the kid with a consequence that wasn’t mentioned in the course of the original correction?  I wouldn’t say that because he was bad, I was rewarding the other two while withholding; instead, the approach would simply be that the others are going for a treat and since that would interfere with the earlier bedtime, he’s home.

Yes, it would be a pointed example.  But would it be fair?

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