When Losing Privileges Doesn’t Work

Taking away or losing privileges is one of the mainstays of parental discipline. Many of us find that next to time-outs, losing privileges becomes a good logical consequence to misbehavior. Of course, not all methods of discipline work well with all children, however, and there are those for whom losing privileges just does not seem to be a deterrent.

Some kids care about stuff and things and some just are not very attached to items so losing the use of a bicycle or an apparently cherished toy or video game just does not seem to affect them like it does others. Also, there are kids for whom Television or computer use is not a big deal anyway so losing that is not necessarily a big deal either. There are still other children (and I have one of these) who are willing to take whatever consequences come in order to do what they think is good and right in the moment (even if it clashes with what we think is good and right.) These kids can be challenging to discipline because they seem to be operating by their own “code” of ethics or motivation.

The challenge for a parent is to acknowledge that a method of discipline is not working and come up with something that does. First you might look at HOW you are using it first. Do you ground or restrict your child for every single infraction? It can lose its power simply from overuse. Also, if you ground your child, but he still has access to all of his cool toys and stuff, the telephone, computer, etc.—is it really a punishment? Are you removing a privilege that truly matters and is logical or something that the child doesn’t care anything about anyway? Sometimes, the reason that taking away privileges is not working with your child is because you are not fully utilizing the discipline technique properly.