Changes – Part Three {Consequences Beyond Time Outs}

This last part in my Changes series is all about how Nick and I will be handling discipline and teaching our boys that there are consequences for their poor choices.

About  a year ago I read up on Love & Logic and decided that would be a good direction to move (we had been using 1,2,3 Magic and found it wasn’t so magical anymore). I loved the idea of filling my day with “Uh Oh!” and “Bummer.”, and imagined it would be much less stressful on all of us.

Things went well for a while, but then we started falling into old habits: empty threats (“do that one more time….”), a whole lot of time outs, some yelling on my part, and most importantly, the boys just didn’t care about any of it. *sigh*

Moving Past Time Outs

We’ve decided to stick with Love & Logic, but do a little pre-planning so we can move past Time Outs/time in their room (which is a part of L&L, but a small part). Our problem is we can’t seem to think on our feet fast enough when it comes to a good consequence for their actions! We don’t want to keep just dragging them down to their room and setting the timer for 4 minutes, especially when they come out just as irritated as they went in (usually).

Part 1 – Serious Offenses 

“Serious Offenses” are things we really, really don’t like and want to nip in the bud. Now. Currently, those items are: violence, screaming, continuing to not listen in public (even after they know they won’t be earning a Screen Time ticket), direct disobedience/telling us “No”.

When one of the boys commits a serious offense, we say “Oh, that’s a bummer! You need to go pick a consequence now.” To pick their consequence, they reach into a small bucket and pull out a folded slip of paper (without looking), and on that paper is their punishment. If they protest, whine, cry or charge at me (to head-butt me or hit me) then I start quickly counting down from 5 (for some reason, counting backwards gets them moving faster). If I reach 1 and they haven’t picked, then I will pick for  them.

The Consequences:

Loss of a Screen Time Ticket

Do a Punch Card Chore, but no punch is earned

5 Minutes in their room

Go to bed 30 minutes early

Sitting in the car for ___ number of minutes the next time we go someplace fun.

Grace is a Gift


Yep, they could pull that “Grace is a Gift” card and get off with no punishment. We felt like teaching them about grace and how we can’t earn it was important to do. Obviously the boys always hope they draw that one. I tell you what, go to bed 30 minutes early is probably the least popular consequence!

Part 2 – Energy Drain

The Energy Drain is something that appealed to me in the L&L book, but I could not for the life of me figure out how to do it! I think I’ve got it now! Woohoo! Nick needs a little practice, but I think if he watches me Energy Drain a couple of times he’ll “get it”.

(For those that don’t know what the Energy Drain is, you can read about it on this PDF from the Love & Logic website.)

Energy Drain offenses:


Talking back

Fighting with each other (but not to the point of violence)

Other random things as they come up and I find myself annoyed 😉

Ok, so to help us out when we’re in the heat of the moment, I came up with a list of ways the boys could re-charge my energy. Some of  these are the same as the consequence slips of paper, but the difference with the Energy Drain, is they have control over when and how to re-charge my energy.

Re-charge Options

Loss of toys

Punch card chore (no punch)

Screen Time ticket

Physical Activity (jumping jacks, running around the house, etc)

The other day, Ty was whining incessantly and it was driving me up the wall! Here’s what went down:

Me: Oh no…. Ty, your whining is draining my energy!

Ty: More whining

Me: Oh dear. I don’t think I’m going to have the energy to make your lunch.

Ty: Whining Please, Mommy! Please make my lunch!

Me: Ty, I don’t have the energy to. You’ll need to re-charge my energy so I can make your lunch. Do you want some ideas of how to do that?

Ty: Yes.

Me: You could do a chore for me, or give me a screen time ticket…. Or maybe you could do 20 jumping jacks for me.

Ty: whining still I’ll do jumping jacks. You count though!

He then proceeded to do 20 jumping jacks in the kitchen, and you know what? He was laughing by the end of it! Hallelujah!

So there you have it – our new plan of attack when it comes to behavior, chores and limiting screen time. We’re 10 days in and I’m loving it so far! I’ll do an update at some point of things that aren’t maybe working long term, or new ideas we’ve added to the mix.

If you have creative energy drain ideas, or new things I could add to my slips of consequences, please share them in the comments! I’d love to hear  them, and I’m sure others would too.

Chore Punch Cards post

Screen Time Tickets post

ETA @ 12:00pm 7/11/12: I feel like I need to clarify that this is just part of how we are customizing Love and Logic. We still ignore some annoying behaviors. We still say things like “I will speak with you when you can speak calmly/nicely/respectfully”. If books are torn, they lose access to other books and trips to the library (for example). We are giving them “this or that” choices throughout the day (usually the Kid of the Day makes the group decision). The things I wrote about here are to help Nick and me stay on task more than anything. We don’t want to just stick them in TO for every infraction, but without more of a structure that seems to be what we fall back into. 

Add a comment...

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

  • I LOVE your blog posts SO muchReplyCancel

  • andrea

    One thing I’d be concerned about as a Love and Logic parent is the “punishment bucket” for things. Those are punishments, not really natural consequences. While they may help short-term, they’re not really teaching the kids natural consequences other than “If I do this, Mom gets mad and I get in trouble.” (That said, I have similar struggles with coming up for natural consequences for some of those things too, and your list of options sounds reasonable as punishments to me!)

    In our house, things like screaming/yelling/whining, Mommy turns her ears off and can’t year you until you speak nicely. I just say, “I’m sure I’ll be able to hear you when your voice is nice like mine is.” And then I just don’t respond to whatever it is they’re saying until it’s said nicely. (Occasionally a sister will try to translate, and I have to just say, “I’m glad you can understand that noise… I’ll respond to her when she can ask or tell me nicely.”) Also, if they just get too loud, I suggest they either quiet it down or take it out back or to their room and shut the door.

    For things like not listening in public, the offending child will have to hold my hand or end of my shirt for the rest of the outting because I can’t trust them to follow my instructions and I don’t want them to get hurt. It can be a real bummer when they have to sit on the bench and hold Mom’s hand when siblings and friends are off playing at the playground! If they’re being really bad/not listening and it’s actually dangerous (like in a parking lot) I will give them a choice, “Would you like me to hold your hand, or your hair?” And then if they don’t decide, I decide for them. The point being I need them right next to me, physically in contact with me because the not-listening is dangerous. (Or if the hair is too short, I can hold an ear or a neck, whatever works best. I don’t pull or yank hair or ears! Just hold them gently and just as firmly as I need to to keep the kiddo safe and under control for a minute or two until we’re in the car or whatnot. Usually, they change their mind and switch to hands after about 10 seconds.) This method actually gives them a choice to make (making them think!) and yet satisfies my need to keep them safe.

    Parenting… there is no easy answer! But it does sound like you guys are doing a great job!ReplyCancel

    • Liz

      I agree with you.
      Also i would think (from what i read ;-)) that the boys are allowed to do too many decisions. I personally think that the PARENTS should decide what consequence is right now. I don’t think they’ll “get it” that way – they just will try to get the “best” one and nothing else.

      Don’t get me wrong, I think you’re doing an awesome job, that’s just my opinion and i do not have triplets 😉ReplyCancel

    • Here’s what I don’t get though – what is a natural consequence for being violent with a sibling? What is a natural consequence for telling me “No”? What is a natural consequence for screaming at me? I have ignored the screaming for hours and it has absolutely no effect on the boys. None. I’m honestly as a loss here, which is why we came up with this bucket thing for some of the exceptionally bad behaviors.

      I do like your (Andrea) idea of making them hold onto you when out in public, and it’ll be worth a shot (not sure how well it’ll work if all three of them are misbehaving).

      Liz, the whole premise of Love & Logic is giving the child choices, which is why in cases like the Energy Drain, they get to pick an option.ReplyCancel

      • andrea

        With multiple kids in public, it would depend on the situation. If you’re shopping and have a shopping cart, then I often will have my offending child hold on to a corner of the cart. You could have one on each corner of a shopping cart. Or have one hold on to the stroller, or one on each side of the stroller, and one hold your shirt tail or hand. Or get a leash, and tell them if they misbehave, they have to go on the leash. (I think I still have one from Faith’s runner days, if you want it.) The leash may be embarrassing enough to motivate them to behave!

        For violence with a sibling, I usually do a few things. First, I separate them and put the offending child in a time out corner/seat/spot where I can see them the whole time. The bedroom doesn’t work because she’ll just go play and it won’t have the desired effect of isolation and thinking time. Then, after things have cooled down, I make the kid tell me what she did and why it was wrong. (Usually, “because it could hurt my sister.”) Then I explain just HOW hurt the sibling could be if the behavior continued. “If you sit on her neck like that again, you could crush her airway and she wouldn’t be able to breathe. And what happens when you can’t breathe? etc.” I figure if the kid can understand WHY it isn’t ok, they’re less likely to keep doing it. And yes, sometimes it scares them, but it doesn’t scar them. I then make the child apologize to whoever she hurt. Sometimes, now that they’re older, I make them write an apology letter that has to include what they did wrong, why it was wrong, how they are sorry, and that they won’t do it again. Sometimes I make them include something about how they really feel about their sibling, as in, “I love you and don’t want you to really get hurt.” (These get more detailed as the kids abilities to write improve. They started out VERY basic, “I’m sorry.”) For my kids, having to write it out really helps cement it in their head, and they hate doing it, so it’s a great win-win for me.

        For the screaming, if it goes on for more than a couple minutes and doesn’t stop when I first ask nicely, I try this “you are hurting my ears, You may stay in here with us if you are quiet, or if you want to still be loud, you must go to (part of house like bedroom or basement or out in the back yard, far from me) and shut the door to be loud.” Then if they don’t leave on their own and continue the loud, I will physically help the loud child to another part of the house and shut the door, and walk away. I sort of use the same principle about hurting others with really loud… if you are hurting my ears, you are hurting me, and it isn’t ok. Take it where it isn’t hurting me, or stop, your choice.

        If they tell you “no” a lot, are you giving them lots of little choices when you can? The more little choices they have all day, the less likely they are to say no when you really need to just tell them to do something. Then when you do need to tell them to just do something, and they try to say no, you can say, “Hey buddy, I know you like to make your own choices, and so I give you choices whenever I can. This is one of those few times I just need you to do what I say for safety (or whatever) this time. Thanks for understanding.”

        I give silly choices like, would you like to walk to the car, or skip? Hold my hand, or my elbow? Wash your hands with this soap or that soap? Or with warm water or cold water?ReplyCancel

        • Thank you, Andrea! All helpful ideas! I like the “you’re hurting my ears” line.ReplyCancel

          • andrea

            And the best part of that one is it’s true!

  • Torona Reynolds

    great ideas!!!ReplyCancel

  • We were introduced to Love and Logic via our girls’ daycare. We’re not perfect at it and it does solve every parenting challenge, but it does help get us to take a moment to calm down vs. explode.

    My favorite is:

    Your words are very important to me but I simply cannot understand them when you are whining!
    This one has curtailed a lot of whining.

    Energy drain = saving graceReplyCancel

    • I forgot to mention…on seriously horrible days, I have picked a reasonable activity (I think L&L calls them executable consequences) and taken it away.

      Such as:

      “Oh bummer, Energy Drain. Guess I’ve spent up all the energy I had chasing you from X store/location that I won’t be able to go and get ice cream/stay at the park any longer/play with the sprinkler/etc. today. Let’s go home and have some quiet time.”

      I usually pick something that I CAN do during the weekend if my “energy” comes back. I do not pick something that affects people outside of the house. For example, canceling a playdate for an Energy Drain would be seriously uncool for the child and parents coming over.ReplyCancel

  • So many great ideas in this series. I’m sure this will come in very handy all too soon. I’m currently struggling with “No”. My kids think it means do it again but with a sly grin.ReplyCancel

  • Gaylene

    I am a mother of 5 boys, age 13, 11, 7, 6, & 3 & also have similar issues as a parent. I haven’t been able to read Love & Logic but I have had it suggested to me & plan to do so very soon! The ideas you have are excellent suggestions & I plan to implement them into our family “routines”. I am trying to figure out something that my husband & I can do to get our sweet little boys back, the ones that we get so many compliments on from other people & at home, yes, it is a totally different story. I want to get some order to our otherwise crazy lives!! Thank you so much to you & the others who have given suggestions here! I NEVER comment on things but I really wanted to say thanks!!ReplyCancel