In our training with John Rosemond, we learned his term called "The Penicillin Principle". It's the perfect usage for following through with consequences for bad behavior. He stressed that what happens sometimes with us parents is that, once the bad behavior stops being a chronic problem, we tend to get lax about clamping down on it when it creeps up again. A little like taking Penicillin (and we've all done this at one time or another!) for particular symptoms and then neglecting to continue taking the full prescription once the symptoms are alleviated or disappear. How often have we forgotten to go through a full cycle of antibiotics once we felt better? However, doctors warn that you need to take the prescribed medicine for the prescribed amount of time because, if you stop, not only will the "bug" in your system possibly recur and be even tougher to vanquish, but the antibiotic may not be as effective to use the next time.
So it is with discipline, according to Rosemond. He warns that follow-through is of utmost importance when dealing with certain behavioral issues. Sometimes as parents, we are reticent to lower the boom, especially if we feel that the recommendation of what to do is extreme. However, that's another point that Rosemond makes...he says the punishment should never fit the crime! We've always heard "the punishment should fit the crime"! Before I was a parent, that's the version I knew...but Rosemond says if the punishment isn't bigger than the crime, it won't make an impact and will fall shy of preventing the misbehavior from happening again. So, he recommends making the punishment forceful and memorable. Only in that way will our child realize that we mean business and think twice before doing the undesired behavior a second time.
When we dole out punishment we often regret the level of punishment, and that's where we can get ourselves into trouble. Moreover, that is a great reason to plan ahead how we will respond to undesirable behavior. If we respond calmly and rationally, versus reacting with emotion and volatility, then we won't have remorse over being too harsh in reacting to our child. If the punishment is strong enough to make it memorable, and we don't end up back-pedaling about the situation, then the punishment will have the effect that it is supposed to have on the behavior we don't want to see again.
In conclusion, the Penicillin Principle says, once we have decided how we will respond, we must tow the line, stick to our guns, follow through and not cave or give in farther down the road. Our children will understand and obey boundaries if, and only if, we stay consistent about what is acceptable and what is unacceptable. If we are wishy-washy and change the rules every other minute, we have no one to blame but ourselves when the behavior is unacceptable and repeated! So much to learn and know about...but worth understanding!