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Building stronger parent-child relationships

father supporting son

Guidelines for Setting Consequences

Bernadette Mayek, Family Living Educator — Waupaca County, University of Wisconsin Extension

Reviewed September 2016 by Lori Hendrickson, Extension Educator — Family Resiliency.

Reasonable consequences are tools to use when nurturance, prevention, and guidance tools don’t work and your children misbehave. Consequences teach a child what not to do. Consequences alone, however, cannot teach children the values and skills that are important for self-worth, problem solving, and self-control.

Effective Consequences

Consequences need guidance to be effective. Guidance is the core of effective discipline — teaching children what is right and wrong, helping them learn how to take responsibility for their actions, and teaching them how to relate positively with others.

Follow these guidelines for effective consequences.

Non-Violent Consequences

Each of these nonviolent consequences is an alternative to spanking. These tools must be used with the nurturance, prevention, and guidance tools.


Harrelson, P. O. (2009). Guiding the behavior of young children. Petersburg, VA:Virginia State University.

Smith, C. A. (2010). Consequences. In Responsive discipline: A decision-making approach to guidance in parent-child relationships.

Steinberg, L. (2004). The Ten Basic Principles of Good Parenting. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

University of Minnesota Extension. (1995). Positive parenting I: A video-based parent education curriculum. St. Paul, MN: University of Minnesota Extension. This product is no longer available.

Related resources

Using natural and logical consequences — Get step-by-step instructions for using natural and logical consequences and see examples of this strategy in action.

What About Spanking? — Find out more about pros and cons of using spanking as a discipline tool.

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