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Collaboration over Competition: Collaborative Consequences

Updated: Oct 13, 2023

Keeping with the theme of collaboration over competition, I’d like to touch now on the benefits of collaborative consequences, and how they can be used in your home. Let’s start with the basics and define collaborative consequences. When we break it down, ‘collaborative’ means working as a team, and a ‘consequence’ is the result of an unfavorable action or behavior. Therefore, a collaborative consequence can be described as a team approach to determining the results of unfavorable actions or behaviors.

You might be asking yourself “why on earth would I work with my child to determine their consequences? I am the parent, I get to make that decision on my own”, and if that’s the thought running through your head, I invite you to continue reading with an open mind.

Aside from the obvious, such as strengthening the parent-child relationship, using collaborative consequences in parenting offers several significant benefits:

Promotes Responsibility: collaborative consequences encourage children to take responsibility for their actions and choices. When your kids are involved in determining the consequences of their behavior, they have a greater sense of ownership and accountability.

Teaches Problem-Solving Skills & Encourages Critical Thinking: collaborative consequences provide an opportunity for children to engage in problem-solving, allowing them to think critically about their actions, consider alternatives, and make informed decisions about how to approach and fix the situation.

Supports Learning: collaborative consequences are educational in nature, as they focus on learning and growth rather than punishment. When children are given the opportunity to understand the consequences of their actions, they can make better choices in the future.

Promotes Emotional Regulation: By involving your kids in the resolution process, collaborative consequences provide opportunities for them to manage their emotions and cope with the consequences of their actions, while you as the parent provide support alongside them.

Overall, collaborative consequences prioritize a growth-oriented and educational approach discipline. They emphasize teaching and learning, as well as collaboration within the family unit in order to create a more positive and effective parenting environment.

Below, you'll find a couple of examples of how to implement collaborative consequences in your home.

Example One:

Scenario: Let's say you have a teenager named Alex who consistently forgets to do their household chores, particularly taking out the trash.

Traditional Approach: A traditional consequence might involve grounding Alex or taking away a privilege as a punishment for not completing the chore.

Collaborative Approach:

1. Discussion: Instead of immediately assigning a consequence, start by having a calm and open discussion with Alex. Ask them why they haven't been taking out the trash and listen to their perspective.

2. Problem-Solving: Together, brainstorm potential solutions to the issue. Encourage Alex to come up with ideas for how to remember their chore.

3. Agreement: Once you've explored various options, come to an agreement with Alex on a new plan. For example, they might suggest setting a daily reminder on their phone or agreeing to do the chore immediately after dinner.

4. Responsibility: Make it clear that the consequence for not following the new plan will be a natural one: if the chore isn't done, the trash will pile up, causing inconvenience for the whole family.

5. Follow-Up: Provide support and encouragement as Alex tries to adhere to the new plan. Check in regularly to see how they're doing and whether any adjustments are needed.

This collaborative approach involves the child in the decision-making process and encourages them to take ownership of their responsibilities. It teaches problem-solving skills and accountability while maintaining a positive and open parent-child relationship.

Example Two:

Scenario: Your toddler, Sarah, often throws her toys and refuses to pick them up when asked. Instead of using a traditional time-out or taking the toys away, you decide to implement a collaborative consequence:

Traditional Approach: Send Sarah to time-out or take the toys away.

Collaborative Approach:

1. Gentle Explanation: Kneel down to Sarah's level and explain why it's important to take care of her toys and keep her play area tidy. Use simple language that she can understand, such as, "We want to keep our toys safe and clean."

2. Ask for Input: Engage Sarah in the decision-making process by asking for her input. Say something like, "How can we make sure our toys stay nice and tidy?" This empowers her to be part of the solution.

3. Brainstorm Together: Encourage Sarah to brainstorm ideas for keeping her toys tidy. She might suggest putting them in a designated basket or using a fun cleanup song. Praise her for her ideas.

4. Agree on a Plan: Together, choose a plan that both you and Sarah find reasonable and age-appropriate. For example, you can agree that before bedtime, you'll clean up toys together, and she can pick a special toy to sleep with.

5. Positive Reinforcement: Emphasize that when she follows the plan and helps clean up, she'll receive praise and appreciation for her efforts.

6. Consistency: Be consistent in implementing the plan and providing positive reinforcement. Remind Sarah of the plan when it's time to clean up, and celebrate her successes.

This collaborative consequence approach empowers your toddler to take responsibility for her actions, offers her a say in the solution, and reinforces positive behavior through praise and appreciation. It encourages her to learn about responsibility and teamwork in a positive and constructive way.

If you want help creating a collaborative plan within your family, book a free discovery call with me today! I look forward to meeting you.


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