Strategic Parenting

Strategic Parenting – CONSEQUENCES

Despite common belief, there are two types of consequences: positive and negative.

Positive consequences: follow acceptable to good behavior. Should be used more than negative consequences. Can take the form of rewards, praise, surprise

Negative consequences: follow unacceptable behavior. Should be used in calculated manner. Can take form of grounding, take away/decreased privileges.

Fact: no matter what the relationship (parent/child, supervisor/supervisee, spousal), relationships have greater potential for success with a minimum of 4:1 ratio of positive to negative statements/consequences/interactions.

Logical consequences: Usually used to to keep natural consequences from occurring. For example, poor grades may result in increased study time (logical consequence) to avoid failing grade (natural consequence). If we speed, we know the possible consequence.

Natural consequences: Occur in the environment, outside our realm of influence. A universal standard: Don’t touch the fire!

Eventually, only natural consequences will have a chance of making a difference. You need to determine in which situations do you create a logical consequence.


Considerations in Consequencing:

  • Slow down, listen. Separate parenting/consequencing from being a listener. Here their story.
  • After the story, wait some time.
  • Consider the consequence. Does it fit the action/behavior?
  • Positive consequences should occur quickly.
  • Are you using a negative consequence that has been unsuccessful?

  • What are you modeling?
  • Family Needs
  • When considering consequences, keep in mind adaptation and cohesion. What do you want to model? Too often, negative consequences are delivered because we are angry and feel “something needs to be done” without considering what costs are associated with the consequence.
  • What’s to be learned?
  • Consider what you want your teen to learn, both positive and negative.
  • Learned hopelessness
  • Too many negative consequences will create learned hopelessness. Teens will reach a point where they figure, “So why try?”
  • What do you want to model?

Remember, how you decide to give consequences will model for your teen how to handle situations. What do you want to model?



  • Surprise bag: Pick up items that can be used as a reward: movie pass, arcade tokens, etc. Give out these items, selectively, as a surprise following acceptable behaviors.
  • Earnings: Keep a daily chart, and rate behaviors.

1= very bad

10= very good

Anything 5+ has a positive consequence associated with it.



What you look for, you will see.

reprinted courtesy of Tracy Todd, PhD., LMFT- Brief Therapy Institute of Denver