Consequences I need ideas for Consequences!!!


My wife and I are going into our third month of being houseparents for teenage girls. The girls that we have range from ages 14-18 and can be quite difficult. Here where we are we use a level system to hold them accountable for their actions. To give you an example level one girls are not allowed to have any of their own belongings and are required to wear uniforms on all outings, as well as many other consequences. Whereas the other levels (2-4) are allowed certain privileges. Our level ones have recently started to revolt and not care what level they and have no motivation to move up to the next level, and they feel like they can do what they want when they want to. I need some ideas or consequences in dealing with them. Anyone have any interesting things that work.


We use a similar level system it seems, but our level 1 does not seem to be quite a strict and we don’t have uniforms. This is coming from someone who doesn’t work where you are and I don’t know how much you can change things in your own home and what you have to run by your director and get approval for. I sounds as though level 1 seems very suffocating. My director (and I agree with him) feels that a kid has to have a light at the end of the tunnel. I understand that at level 2 you get privileges, but to a teenager (especially if they have ADD/ADHD) it’s hard to see how to get there. If you have no instant rewards for good behavior and they have to wait a week or 2 before moving up to the nest level, then is it really worth it to them? One thing I have learned is that even though they may still be on level 1, if they do something very well, then they need to be rewarded for that. For example, one of my boys got bumped down to level one a few weeks ago, and had no TV, computer, iPod, stereo, etc. However, one day, he had done very well at school and come home and did his homework and I let him play a game on the computer for 10 minutes. It was only 10 minutes, but it wet his tongue and made him want more. Therefore, the next day he worked even harder. However, if he were to slack off just a little, NO WAY.

I’m not in your home, so I don’t know what all is going on, but if a kid feels as though they can’t do anything right or even if they do they don’t get anything for it, then why do the right thing, you know? After all, it is kinda funny to see the hp get upset and frustrated – and I already have nothing, so what’s the big deal.

I would attempt to begin giving a little back and really rewarding the good behaviors (stay up 10 min later than the rest of the girls that night, 5 min of TV, change out of uniform for the night, etc.)

These are just suggestions, but again, I don’t know your campus, director, or how exactly things are done there. I may be way out in left field for you, but it sounds like they need to see a light at the end of the tunnel.


I totally agree with Seamus. It sounds like the girls need to get a little of something to keep them motivated and moving forward.

Hopefully your program and facility is flexible enough to find something that they are interested in achieving in the short term. As crazy as it sounds, some kids could care less about achieving a facilities’ pre-set goals. Especially if the kid never had any say in what it is they would like to achieve.

Personally I would be motivated to get to the next level to get all my stuff back, but for some kids they have a hard time actually seeing themselves achieving a goal beyond the end of the day, let alone next week. It can lead, for some, to a feeling of hopelessness. I think finding out what each individual girl would like to be rewarded with and setting short term goals for them to achieve may work.


I just want to say thanks for the information. We know why we are here and it is not to punish the girls, and sometimes you get caught up in do this. I am glad for the info and that fact that I have never thought about why they didn’t care but it makes sense seeing as how most of our girls do have add adhd. I will surely take this and run with it, as much as I can. We are in a really good program and they allow us to make a lot of the decisions about rules( of course we do have a set book of guidelines). Thanks again for the feedback.

“The Safest Place is in the Center of God’s Will”


Sometimes we have to do something to give the kids hope. If they dig themselves a hole it can be hard to get out of. We have to let them smell a little bit of success from time to time. We have to dangle the carrot in front of them sometimes so they want to go for it. Who knows when it will be the time that they turn their life around and continue to want to be on a higher level.


If you have one or some who are misbehaving find out what they like to do. When they are not on level have the others do what they like to do and do not allow them to participate. This might mean that one of the houseparents stay back. For example we had a girl who really liked this part and to go down trails we made sure that when she was not on level that we went to the park. Another idea is movies. You can have show a movie like on the weekend and have the ones who are not on level to set in another room etc.


I had two young men that did not ‘care’ about rising up thru the ranks. Life’s experiences for them had convinced them that it did no good to advance, because someone or something would always beat them back down. Nothing seemed to motivate them…UNTIL… we discovered their passion. Sometimes it is hard to see a child’s passion when they are conditioned to express nothing, but we were blessed. When we went the extra mile to provide an outlet for their passion (for one it was individual guitar lessons with a really good instructor), we found these two young men responding to us with real emotion (mostly positive). HOWEVER, we could not use these lessons as reward or consequences… that would have just shut the boys down again. For the one child – the lessons cost money, we worked with others to give him opportunities to earn his lessons. We had to use opportunities not connected to our house or regular chores, he worked for other people on the facility grounds. We kept the requirements very low, so that the boys could not fail. Within one month, the boys began to do better in school and at home, and we were able to build some relationship bonds that were healthy…it felt like a miracle.


You just can’t keep giving negative consequences to these kids. Are you changing or modifying the behavior just giving out consequences. If one of your Natural children was in trouble you could give very harsh and long consequences and it would change their behavior. With the children we care for we can’t keep piling it on. They have to have hope. If we take privileges away they usually can earn some back. These kids have been through so much, it makes me laugh when I hear someone say they are going to break them. Most of my guys have been beaten, some with lamp cords and who know what else. Yet we think we can break them by taking stuff from them. Some people are motivated by the positive and some by the negative, you have to know what will work for each child. We use a chip system, some will cry if we take a chip some do no care, yet will respond when they earn chips. We made a modified family teaching model with the chips. Family teaching is 4 to 1 ratio positive to negative we used Family teaching in a DJJ home with teens most gang members, I thought it worked well and they teach don’t pile it on, give them a chance to earn something back. You also need the teaching part, they need to be taught correct behavior and rewarded when the do it.

Our Rad daughter was giving us problems we used love and logic all she had was a mattress on the floor. She said you did everything you can do I’m still going to do what I want. F YOU and walked out the door and we did not see her for weeks. That taught me that you need not only consequence but give positive reinforcement and bait them back.


Every person I have ever known to live by the break-em philosophy is now doing something else for a living. Though the so called breaking of a child may work for the very few, it won’t work for the vast majority of children in placement. They have already been broken by their situation and have learned ways to cope and deal with it. They have to be taught that adults can be dependable, caring and respectful, that not every situation is bad.

I’ll be the first to admit that this is a very hard thing to do. It’s hard to be caring a respectful when you are being cussed at, yelled at, spit on, or disrespected, but it has to be done. Our daughter that we raised in placement and that chose us as her parents, put us through test after test after test to see if we would stick around and continue to care. We did and now she calls us mom and dad. But even if she had never decided to make us her parents, but only learned to be a productive member of society and how to treat others, it is worth it.

Craig Bridges 

The other problem with the break them philosophy (control) is it is usually external and only works while when the kids are in the “break them” environment. It is a combination biblically of truth & grace. How does God deal with us? He tells us what or how we should do things, tells us the consequence of both obedience & disobedience, allows us to make a choice & experience the consequence of our choices. What I love is his blessings, mercy, & grace far outweigh the penalties. Also he is always there with open arms, willing to forgive & give us the support & love we need to get back on track.
We need negative consequences when raising our children but they should not be the focus. We should go out of our way to give grace, build relationships, find hot buttons (blessings) and have open arms. I don’t know about everyone else but I need Jesus because as the webmaster said it is hard when time and time again you are being disrespected, disobeyed and everything else. Thank you heavenly Father for your example on how to be a house parent.

Kids Hurting Animals lying and other stuff


I haven’t posted in awhile but I am always looking at the forums so here is a couple of situations that I would appreciate some feedback on:

1)The new girl, seven years old, in our house threw our dog, a toy poodle, down tonight and now he won’t put any weight on his back left leg. Does anyone have any suggestions on what to do for a consequence? My wife almost went through the roof when it happened.  The new girl refuses to do what we ask of her. She was only here a week and was banned from petting, holding, walking or anything related to the dog because of the way she mistreated him. I can honestly say that she has been in time out and has lost just as many privileges than any other kid in our house, and she has only been here for a month and a half.

2) We have a girl in our house that about 80% of what she says is a lie. We catch her in lie, after lie, after lie. I know she is doing it for attention and she wants us to favor her more than the other girls. But it is getting to where we can’t believe anything she says anymore.

Any thoughts that you guys have I would appreciate. 



Best thing you can do in regards to the dog- don’t freak out. Be very calm when giving consequences and talking about the event with her. This may help to keep her from seeking negative attention.

Sounds like she has some very serious issues and needs therapy- now. Animal abuse is a very big red flag with adolescent behavior.

I have only had two kids that would try to harm our pets. One of them was trying to impress the other boys and the other was deeply disturbed. In any case, working and living in residential child care means you have to expect the worst at all times. I love animals, but I wouldn’t get overly attached to the dog if I were you. Your living in an environment where you may wake up one morning and find the poodle laying in the middle of a chalk outline and three kids standing around playing “CSI”.


2) We have a girl in our house that about 80% of what she says is a lie. We catch her in lie, after lie, after lie. I know she is doing it for attention and she wants us to favor her more than the other girls. But it is getting to where we can’t believe anything she says anymore.

Every fib you catch her on, tell her and give out a consequence. Every time you suspect she is lying, tell her and give a consequence. You don’t need concrete proof to give a child a response cost for suspecting they are lying. It is a tough behavior to correct, but eventually she will get tired of being accused of lying every time she opens her mouth and being given a consequence.

Lying Compulsive Lying


Does anyone have any tips or recommendations for dealing with compulsive lying? I have a boy that is struggling with communicating honestly on any level. We just can’t seem to get him to progress past this level. He is an older teen and this behavior is in-grained very deeply.

Anyone with any strategies or advice please comment, I am way open and searching on this one. 



We have a young lady that is a somewhat compulsive liar. We just call her on it and give her consequences every time she lies. Other than that I don’t know what else to do. We have had discussion after discussion about how lying makes a situation worse, and we have had several examples with other children in our cottage. She has been able to see how telling the truth by other children has resulted in them not receiving additional consequences, and even receiving grace and how other children that have lied receive additional consequences, but she doesn’t seem to be able to associate any of it to her situation. 

I did receive this in an E-mail today. It is a link to the foster parent college. They are offering, along with many other courses, a course specifically for dealing with lying. I haven’t previewed the course and am unable to offer a review, but the cost is relatively inexpensive, and might be very productive. 



We work with a teen girl with the same issue. It seems to be an almost automatic response – lying. I agree with consistently giving consequences for each incidence – large or small. However the biggest impact has followed her recent profession of faith, when instructed that Jesus has nothing to do with lies. He is the way, the TRUTH…..this has been repeated for her to ponder as it is very important to her. I don’t know if it helps your situation, but I at least wanted to confirm the previous post on consistency of consequence.

Bully’s, thugs, etc… Got one of these?

Ok- I’m at a loss on this one.

We have a kid that is just downright mean towards others. He is small and a little awkward and definitely not the tough guy type, but he is constantly going after all the other kids. The bigger the better! He kicks, hits and screams when he gets a hold of another kid. Oddly- the other kids never hit back, even at school. 

I had the same issue once before at another facility. The other kids told me they thought he was crazy and bit “special” which is why they never retaliated. I suspect the same thing may be going on here.

This boy is in first grade. We work the point structure with him, but he really does not comprehend that points equal privileges.

Looking for anything that will help him to stop seeking death by peer relationships. He is currently doing about 50mg of Strattera a day. Any ideas?

How does he feel when he gets the points? If it is negative, then you have to break the conflict cycle. Maybe the only way he knows to seek attention is negative behavior, and this could stem from before he came in your care. I would try rewarding positive behavior and see if that makes a difference. As young as he is, it will probably have to be really simple. If he can get through the morning, make it a small reward. Same for the afternoon. If he gets through the day, give me something bigger (a pack of skittles or M&Ms). It could also be that something from the past is triggering his behavior.

Good luck, I know it is not easy.

Good luck, I know it is not easy.

Thanks mom. The candy reward has really helped. Still having episodes but he is trying much harder to strive for the candy at the end of the day.

Great advice that seems to have hit the mark. 

Our 6 yr old can’t function on a level system. We do use a token system to earn allowance but that alone is not enough. We have had a similar problem although not to that extreme. We realized that he was getting physical from the sheer need of physical touch. Now we try to give him tons of hugs, sit close to read a book to him etc. That really brought down the aggression. It seems polar opposite of what he needs but they can’t tell you what they need, they just go from instinct. We also will take away whatever toy or privilege he is interested at the time. Bad behavior, lose a puzzle or basketball etc. We do use candy or dessert as an incentive to eat his meals. I’ve noticed with this young of an age, you have to change tactics. One day taking a puzzle won’t bother him, the next day its enough to bring out a good attitude the rest of the day. Good luck!


My wife and I are trying to get a better control on the kids borrowing stuff from each other. We’re talking toys and electronics mostly as we have young boys in the cottage. We generally don’t have a problem with borrowing if they’ve received permission from the owner – we have been also been requiring that they get our permission. The problem is that we don’t want to have to give our permission for every little matchbox car they happen to swap for an hour – they’re not going to remember to do it anyway.

Any ideas?

We have had the boys do contracts in the past. Lately we have had a no trading, borrowing, lending policy in place. Mainly because we were being overwhelmed with all the contracts and back room deals the kids were making. It was like watching stockbrokers work the boards on Wall Street. 

We also have young children (ages 4-11), our policy is that borrowing is not allowed period!!! If they are playing together they can share toys and stuff, but the child that owns the toys must be present when they (the toys) are being played with. And because all our children know that borrowing is not allowed, the child playing with the other persons toys will receive the consequences, and if we know that the other child loaned it willingly we will take it up for a period of time.

We have never allowed sharing clothes regardless of the age; it just caused too many hassles.

We have found that loaning and borrowing is just too hard to police. If a child has something that belongs to somebody else it is impossible to tell who is telling the truth when one says, “he loaned it to me” and the other say, “I did not, he took it” 

Thanks WM, I think we’ll be trying your method. -TexPop

Discipline (Spanking)

(Christian Themed Discussion)


Hi everyone,
My wife and I are Christian and raised our children biblically. Including on occasion the rod of correction (spanking). My wife wants us to become house parents. I realize that if we decide to do this that the children will not be ours and we will not be able to care for them as if they were our own, however I feel strongly that spanking is a very important tool in an adult’s arsenal when dealing with inappropriate behavior, disrespect, etc… and that’s it’s a mandate from GOD. So I am struggling with this. Also I am looking for a program that is more for children who cannot find a home, and not a facility for juvenile delinquents. I feel we have a lot of love to give and a lot of experience and educational background. I have been praying about being house parents and I feel this may be a calling. We are new to this any help would be appreciated.

God Bless, Steven and Jennifer Roberts


My wife and I have been houseparents for 1 year. Our greatest struggle is the fact we can not paddle the children (as instructed in the word of God), especially the toddlers. We have been blessed in seeing many positive changes in the short time we have been allowed to work with children. It is sooo hard to ask God for direction and help when you know you are not allowed to do as He instructs. There have been unpleasant episodes that would have never developed or escalated into a crisis if we would have been able to apply proper punishment at the proper time. We work at a Christian home, but everyone seems to give in to the ways of the world in this issue. It all boils down to the fact that I know this is God’s calling on my life at this time. I had to be obedient to his call and now depend on Him to see me through….I pray that he will lead me to a place that allows us to follow his word or give me the means to help the home change policy to HIS WAYS…..

Remain in prayer and be obedient to Gods direction in your life…..God Bless!

Houseparenting isn’t for people who paddle, whip or otherwise physically discipline children. Many of these kids have suffered horrible abuse and need to be taught other ways of discipline. Spanking may remind them too much of where they used to be. At that point you become, in the eyes of the child, no better than the ones before.

The bible has more to say on discipline than “spare the rod, spoil the child.”

Look at the passages on how you should treat those who have been afflicted or harmed in the past. You will see my point then.

If you rely on the paddle with your biological children then houseparenting isn’t for you.


As far as I see God has not taken it out of His word though man has yes kids may have been whipped beyond what they should have been done but there is a big huge difference in a spanking with a paddle and a beating with a stick the reason that the State removed paddling from the Foster care program and Child care facilities is because there has been a lot of physical abuse done and people called it discipline or spanking but is really Abuse. Now we had 2 case workers for the Child Protective Services in the State of Texas agreed that yes a lot of kids need a good paddling but the line was drawn when abuse got out of hand at one time it was allowed but then ruled out. These case workers also told us that they spanked their own kids but said that Child care workers need to refrain from it they were not against it just said that everyone needed to follow the rules. This conversation came up when some house parents approached them and asked for their honest opinion they were taking chances for their thoughts on the subject but proceeded with what they said.

We do need to refrain from spanking don’t even think about it even though you may spank your own kids you cannot spank those in your care.

But the secular government if you may knows better than God and i disagree with Max ones who paddle their own children should and need to become House parents it does not affect on them wanting to allow Christ to love those kids through themselves I know of a great number of House Parents who spank their own kids and are very compassionate people. I thought God calls people into the Ministry of Child Care Max not man.

Grace and Peace

I don’t think paddling a diaper with one’s bare hand is bad, but once they reach kindergarten they shouldn’t be spanked.

See what Dr. Johnson at thinks.

His book is great and he’s a great Christian man.


No problem with most of what you said but hey i got a better book that you should read and that is God’s word He created mankind and has the best tool for discipline it is called spanking i think i will stick to what God has to say concerning spanking than what Man thinks we should do. Because most dismiss paddling though man changes God does not change His word.

These children entrusted to our care are not OUR children and PUNISHMENT is not a part of what they are meant to experience in our care.

I haven’t seen much new in the recent years that God has chosen to share with us. Just different interpretations by MAN of the bible to justify his opinions on any given subject.

10Yr VeteranHP
There will always be this debate in Childcare. What you must consider now in becoming a houseparent is “Can I do this without corporal punishment”. Today’s standards are much different than yester years. As time has gone by more and more “psychologists” have stepped in bringing in new theories on how to raise a child. Their approach is more therapeutic and is more based on communication.

The days of the paddle and corporal punishment are dying out, that’s just the facts.

I am not saying it’s right that this is happening it’s just the way it is in today’s society.

I myself do believe there is a time and a place for corporal punishment, and have been sad to see it being totally removed. It like all the other training you receive is a good tool to have in your box, and should be used when the situation is appropriate for it.

Not all children in care have been abused physically. A higher majority have been verbally or mentally abused.

Our view of Punishment and the child is much different, and that issue gets twisted more and more each year.

Punishment is a consequence without meaning, discipline means a consequence with teaching added.

You see there will always be a consequence out there, it is simply how the consequence is handled that can determine if it was used as a punishment or as a discipline.

It doesn’t matter if you give a child a time out or if you paddle them, if you do it appropriately and if there is a lesson learned from them. Otherwise if there is no lesson to learn you have a punishment, and the child learns nothing.

God has in fact given us many tools to work with children and the use of corporal punishment needs to be held back as a last resort option, when the other tools have not worked and it is deemed necessary by more than just one adult that has lost their composure. It should be a team decision, and should be supervised. I would also state that if you have to give more than “2 swats” your defeating your purpose. If 2 doesn’t have an effect more won’t either.

I also don’t totally agree with the person who said by 2 or 3 you won’t need the paddle any more, it’s more like if you have done it right hopefully you won’t need to used it by the time they reach their early teens. I know if my parents had not used it I would not be as nice a person as I am today. If all they did was talk and give me timeouts, I would have been as disrespectful as the children I see day to day now as a houseparent.

We are here for the children, this is not an easy job as some might have people believe. Houseparents have the most challenging job in childcare because they deal with the children directly, as well as answering up to administration for their actions.

If your looking to be a houseparent get ready for the hardest job you’ll ever love.

These children are going to find every weakness you never thought you had and they are going to expose that weakness. Your buttons will be found and pushed. You need to get prepared ahead of time mentally.

I have toured many people thru houses, and frankly they haven’t had a clue as to what childcare is all about. They don’t get all the facts from office personnel, usually what they get is how nice the children are and how wonderful things are. “Look at the campus, look at the nice children” etc…etc.

This is not a realistic view, and because of this approach I have seen many good people that could have been good houseparents quit and leave because it wasn’t what they expected.

Sure there will be good times during childcare, but mind you the rewards are few and far between. You will not receive a lot of feedback, but you certainly will know if you messed up.

Also, keep in mind usually it’s not the children that are the “straw that breaks the camel’s back” it’s the lack of understanding and support showed and given to the houseparents from the Office. Many times the office personnel have not clue 1 as to the day to day running’s of a home. All they know is what they receive on paper. Many have never lived in a home nor dealt with the children in care on a 24 hour basis. All Office personnel need a taste of this. So you don’t get a comment like this we received once ” I don’t know how you can deal with that child, I sure couldn’t if he was in my house”. Now this is not an isolated incident, this came from an administrator with 20+ yrs experience as an administrator. Believe it or not we also had a similar response years later with another supervisor who had 9 years experience.

I have even been called out to deal with a child by an office person because they just didn’t know what to do with a child. Mind you they had all the training the houseparents had.

With all that said, corporal punishment is disappearing more and more each year, if you’re totally hung up on using the paddle, childcare of today is not for you.

Runaways, What do you do?


We are currently without another set of houseparents (we work a week on/week off schedule) and so the consistency is nil. I think because of this, our boys have become a bit squirrelly.

For the past few weeks, some of our boys have run off on campus and some off campus. The other day one boy ran around campus for the whole day. Tonight we have two boys who are on campus and have been running around for 2 hours.

What would your facility do? You personally? Do you even have this problem?

They are avoiding consequences from school and running away previously.

Any ideas would be great!


We have had this happen at our facility and for our facility it is very much a cyclical thing that happens every few years. It could be the result of extenuating circumstances like you think and/or it could also just be copycats.

Johnny could have seen Stevie do it and see all the attention he got for doing it and think, “I’m going to do it also and get some of that attention.” That definitely could be the result of lack of staff and the resulting lack of relationships. It could also be Johnny thinking, “that looks like fun and I think I will just give it try” not even considering the consequences.

Unless you have control in the hiring process all you can do is keep working to build relationships with the boys and provide fair and consistent boundaries and consequences for going outside those boundaries to the best of your ability. Hopefully you will get help and support from your administration and other team members to help you and the children get through this.


Usually when we have a resident that decides to go on a “walkabout” we take all of their shoes, socks and jackets. Being that we are located in the middle of nowhere kind of restricts the runaways to on campus. We also make it a priority to point out bear tracks during campus hikes;) (Seriously).

We don’t have many runaways, but like the previous post, our facility deals with this only in spurts.


We’ve had to deal with this just recently. Because of the situation, rules at our home have been changed. If a child runs off, we will look for them for a set period of time (if they are on campus, we will attempt to talk with them and bring them back inside). If we are unsuccessful in finding the child, the police will be called and it will be dealt with that way. If we have a child run, we call administration immediately and they handle the show from there.


How long do the runaways stay gone when they remain on campus? Do they camp out overnight?

I had a teen girl become angry over a loss of music. She ran outside and refused to come back inside. Her actions took away time and attention for the other clients. After two hours, she overheard us talking about phoning our boss who makes decisions on who stays in the group home and who goes somewhere else. When she heard his name, she jumped up and ran back inside. We gave her a consequence of no music for a week. Three days later I saw her and she had earplugs in listening to music. She smiled a gloating smile at me. When I asked her residents what was the deal, the answer was, “you try listening to her whine for a week.” After that, this teen girl was blatantly unruly and obnoxious to us. Just recently she is learning that we do not back down from consequences and follow through when one is given.