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Sentences and Essays as a Consequence

By Mike Hyde, The Webmaster

If at your facility you use sentences and/or essays as a consequence for inappropriate behavior I have a suggestion.  When you assign sentences or essays always focus on the positive behavior you would like for them to do rather than the negative behavior they have done. 

If a child lies, have them write something like, “I will be honest in all I say and do”  rather than “I will not tell lies”  If a child steals, they could write something like, “I will respect other people’s stuff” rather than “I will not steal other people’s stuff”  It is very easy for the child to overlook the NOT in the sentence and focus on the negative behavior.  If they are required to write positive sentences, overlooking a word or two will not reinforce a negative behavior.

If you assign essays, use the same principle.  It would be much better to have them write an essay about why it is right to be honest rather than why it is wrong to lie, steal, or whatever.  Why it is better to be sober rather why it is wrong to abuse substances.  I think it is always better to spend less time pointing out what is wrong and more time pointing the children in our care in the right direction.  Try it and see what happens.

Note: Always follow your facility’s policy when giving consequences.  Use suggestions posted here only if it would be appropriate to do so at your facility.

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