ENFORCING THE RULES – STEP 2: Issue a warning.

Most of the time, the above measures will be enough – nothing further will be needed. However, occasionally, the child will try to “test you” and continue with the inappropriate behavior despite your having done all of the above correctly. When that happens, it is time to issue a warning. The purpose of warning is to place it within thechild’s own control whether she gets punished or not. This is very important because the most common reason for punishment not working in a child is because children have trouble understanding the connection between the punishment and the crime.

You know that you are punishing because the child refused
to brush his teeth, or hit his brother, or lied.
The child is apt to think, however, that he is being punished
because you are mad, he is bad, or you are mean.
This is not useful because the child learns
nothing if they are thinking this way.

Warning makes it much more difficult for them to think in those terms, and makes it more likely that they will realize specifically why they are being punished if it comes to that.

Issuing a warning such as “If you do that one more time,
this is what is going to happen to you. . . ” or,
“if you do not stop that by the time I count to 3. . . “,
places the decision squarely in the child’s lap – it is saying,
“it’s not up to me kid, it’s up to you”.

It is very important that when you warn, you mean it, and that you only warn once. If you get into the habit of warning and then warning again and then warning again before you actually carry through on your threat, it defeats the entire purpose of warning to begin with.

Issuing multiple warnings takes back the control and
puts it in your hands rather than the child’s. Only you
know which warning is the real warning and the child
thinks it is always “worth another try”,
because maybe you do not really mean it.

Therefore, while it is very important to issue a warning before punishment, there should be only one warning and then, if it is not heeded, it’s time to move on to Stage 3.