Teaching Kids About Consequences

Teaching Kids About Consequences - Parenting Like Hannah
Some consequences are minor


This is not your normal discipline post. If you are struggling with discipline, you can check past entries under discipline for lots of ideas and tips. This post is about giving your children some of the “why’s” of God’s commands and principles. Sometimes God tells us to do things we may never really understand until we are in Heaven. Often though, God’s rules are not to keep us from “having fun” but to help us avoid all sorts of negative consequences.

Don’t get me wrong. No child wants to hear a constant litany of all of the bad things that can happen if they make a bad choice. Often in our efforts to be the “awesome” parent though, we forget to help our kids understand why God is so incredibly smart about the best ways for us to live our lives.

I grew up in the height of the original drug era in the 1970’s. Our elementary health classes taught us enough about the consequences of every possible street drug to make me decide at a very young age, any possible “fun” of doing drugs was definitely not worth the many likely consequences.

I was probably not a prime candidate for Satan to tempt with drugs before my education in consequences, but having the information strengthened my resolve, gave me things to say to anyone who might tempt me and educated me enough to help someone else avoid temptation. Teaching your children the consequences to a variety of sins can give them similar tools.

Choose your times for this kind of discussion carefully. Maybe it is all over the news that a celebrity has spun out of control. It’s a very non-threatening time to share with your child “this is why God tells us to avoid (insert sin here)” and then discuss all of the consequences the person has experienced and could still experience because he disobeyed God.

Try to make your tone one of sharing observations rather than giving a lecture or sermon. Sometimes life may not give you a negative example to share. It is still important to share with your child why it is important to be honest or pure or whatever godly principle you are trying to reinforce. Give the positive things that come from obeying God as much as you give the negative consequences for disobeying Him.

If your child loves to walk on the edge, he may very well point out people who have disobeyed God and not suffered the possible consequences you have mentioned. Remind him there are always consequences for disobedience. Some are visible and immediate. Other consequences are only experienced in the way the person feels about himself. Still other consequences may be delayed even until after death. Remind your child the issue is actually an issue of his heart. Does he want to be someone who loves, worships and obeys God or someone who goes through life selfishly, hurting himself and others in the process.

Hopefully your child is a slightly more positive child. Spend plenty of time sharing the benefits of living a godly life. There are so very many reasons to want to follow God’s plans for our lives and avoiding consequences is really the very least of the benefits. Sharing the joys of the Christian life will also help her understand why it is important to live a godly life now and not “wait until right before I die so I can do what I want and still go to Heaven”.

So grab your child, head out for a walk to get some ice cream and share the “why’s” behind some of God’s commands. It will give your child more tools to avoid the devil’s traps and lies.

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Thereasa Winnett

Thereasa Winnett is the founder of Teach One Reach One and blogger at Parenting Like Hannah. She holds a BA in education from the College of William and Mary. She has served in all areas of ministry to children and teens for more than thirty years and regularly leads workshops for ministries and churches. She has conducted numerous workshops, including sessions at Points of Light’s National Conference on Volunteering and Service, the National Urban Ministry Conference, Pepperdine Bible Lectures, and Lipscomb’s Summer Celebration. Thereasa lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband Greg, where she enjoys reading, knitting, traveling and cooking.

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