Posted in Child Behavior

How to Perfect the Use of Consequences in the Classroom - By Bryan Post

Bryan is one of America’s foremost child behavior experts,  best selling author,  consultant, internationally recognized speaker on challenging behaviors and attachment issues, and founder of The Post Institute for Family Centered Therapy.


For teachers, the use of consequences in the classroom is so common that it’s much like an epidemic. Nobody knows for sure where the practice started, but it spread like crazy to the point that now, everybody is infected! The popularity of consequences rivals behavior modification, time‐out, and paddling (yes, believe it or not, there are still schools that actually condone the hitting of children.) Well, I’ve decided to join the consequences crowd and not only discuss consequences and the use of them but also how to practice them for the maximum advantage of your child. In fact, I’m even going to discuss a new use for consequences that is guaranteed to “get” your child every single time. Surely, Foster Cline (founder of the Love and Logic Institute) would be proud of me. Let’s get to it.


Consequences are given to children in order to teach responsibility. Yet, what is commonly taught in the field of child development and what we have failed to grasp is that children learn primarily through modeling. Yes, that’s correct – children learn directly from your own example far more than what you teach them about life. It’s funny that I can’t remember a single lesson from any teacher I had growing up, but I can describe their personalities to a tee.


Basically, I just want to revise our thinking about consequences in the classroom a tidbit, by shifting our understanding of how to make them more effective. Let’s say Tim walks into class, and he is loud and boisterous. A simple consequence you might provide Tim is a little shame and embarrassment mixed with classroom training. “Ah, Tim, I think you’ve entered the big kids’ room this morning. Why don’t you try it again, or you can go down to the second grade where you might fit in better!” Oh, that’s a good one right there. All of the other students laugh, Tim’s face turns red, he storms out, and then storms back in without giving you even a look. He goes straight to his seat. The other kids egg him on a bit longer with whispers about Tim needing to be back in second grade…surely the lesson has been taught? But halt! I say, we can do even better!


Now, let me introduce the all new hot and spicy approach to consequences that Foster never told you about. This way is guaranteed to shock Tim right out of his little beating heart: Tim walks into the classroom being loud and boisterous and stops to talk to Gerry for a minute on the way. As Tim is interrupting the morning roll call, you pause momentarily, take a big deep breath, and feel your center. Then, you just state in a gentle voice, “Tim.” Tim hurriedly shuts off his morning meandering and replies, “What?” You look at him and smile, gesturing to his seat with your head. He sits. It happens so fast that the class doesn’t even know that it happened.


But wait, there's more! After the roll call, you pull out your heavy artillery: five minutes of meditation to classical music!


You tell the class “we need to take 5.” They all relax, close their books, put their pens down, and rest their eyes. While doing so, you go over to Tim, get down on a knee, and ask, “Tim, are you okay this morning? You seemed quite upset earlier.” “No, I’m fine,” he replies. “Are you certain? Is there anything I need to do differently? I don’t want you feeling like you aren’t getting enough attention. That would be terrible for you. In fact, because it seems like that’s what’s going on, maybe you and I could spend some time together in the morning before class. What do you think? That would help me make sure one of my favorite kids is getting the attention that he needs, and I wouldn’t be worried that I might be messing up with you.” Tim stirs, “Nah, you don’t have to do that. You give me plenty of attention really. I was just being rude and not thinking.” You respond with more compassion, “Okay, I understand, but if you come into my classroom feeling that way, it tells me this is not the safe place I want it to be for you. And that’s my responsibility – to make learning safe and enjoyable for you. I’ll see you in the morning ten minutes before bell rings.” With that, you walk back to your desk with a smile on your face because not only have you taught Tim a very valuable lesson via a consequence for his behavior, but you have done so through the use of love and relationship – the two most powerful teaching vehicles in the universe.


Summary Points:


•Children learn through modeling. If you want to teach a child responsibility, you must be responsible. The traditional use of consequences is reactive in nature, so we end up teaching reactivity as opposed to the more powerful state of responsibility.


•The single best way to influence a child is through relationship. As long as you have a relationship, you can get through any sticky spots that you might encounter. 


•Remember to breathe at the first sensation of stress or a potentially stressful scenario. It’s the most important thing you can do for yourself and your students. 


•Blame and shame only breed stress and fear. You do not want more stress and fear in your classroom or school. The world will naturally inject enough stress and fear, so combat it with love and understanding. 


•Stress causes confused and distorted thinking, and it suppresses short‐term memory. A stressed‐out child cannot learn effectively.


•Devise ten or so quick interruption tools that you can use to regulate a student who seems at risk of disrupting class. Don’t delay in using these tools – move quickly and swiftly. Take action by staying attuned to your classroom. Quick interruption tools might be turning off the lights, playing a soothing song, dispensing pages of wisdom to read and contemplate, passing around a snack, having free time, group talk, or any number of other activities that interrupt a developing pattern.


•Fill your classroom with Love. Fear will slip in and try to take over, but don’t permit it. Just say to yourself over and over, “I love you. Thank you.”


Always choose love. Always




Bryan Post is a best-selling author, internationally renowned speaker, therapist and one of America’s foremost child behavior experts specializing in attachment & bonding, adoption/foster care, and difficult child behaviors. To learn more about Parenting Challenging Children, Oxytocin the Love Hormone, Mindfulness, and How to Thrive instead of just survive as an adoptive or foster parent, visit,, and To find out more about Bryan Post’s powerful ground breaking parenting program Parenting Attachment Challenged Children “Hands-On” Home Study Course visit Join our Facebook page for daily parenting help and inspiration, videos, articles and contests along with other parents and professionals just like yourself. Also visit our Blog at



This article is courtesy of the Top 1% Club and the Top 1% Club Mentor Gail Kasper. For additional information on Gail Kasper, her television appearances and speaking engagements, please visit