People of all ages want security; they want to know where they stand. A prime reason that young people “test” adults is that young people want to know their limits. With this in mind and with the belief that it is only fair to tell people the consequence resulting from an inappropriate behavior, many parents (and schools) inform young people ahead of time of the consequences for specific actions. In other words, children know how they will be disciplined prior to misbehaving.
A typical school example is the consequence for coming to a class late. It’s common to hear teens say that nothing happens until the third tardy; therefore, as their thinking goes, it is okay to come to class late two times. As you can see, when a young person knows the consequence, the risk is reduced. So in terms of disciplining a young person, not knowing is far more effective than knowing. If the consequence is known ahead of time, young people assess its severity and then determine whether or not what they want to do is worth the imposed consequence.
Therefore, you may want to use the following discipline approach when a child or student is acting on an unacceptable level. Just whisper in the youngster’s ear, “Don’t worry about what will happen; we’ll talk about it later.” The misbehavior immediately stops because the youngster is then focusing on what will happen later.
You will also discover that when a consequence is elicited from a youngster, the consequence chosen is often more severe than the adult would have chosen. In such cases, let the youngster know your thoughts and pursue a procedure or consequence that is not quite so severe but will still assist the youngster from repeating the same offense.