Websters defines Consequence as:

1.  the effect, result, or outcome of something occurring earlier.

2.  an act or instance of following something as an effect, result, or outcome.

3. the conclusion reached by a line of reasoning.  

The first two definitions are simple.  A consequence is something that follows an action.  It can be anything, really.  Yelling.  Spanking.  Ignoring.  Losing a privilege.  Just as long as it follows an action.

The third definition is where you get to the heart of consequences:  the conclusion reached by a line of reasoning.

Reasoning.  A word that is often forgotten when giving consequences.  Consequences are often made suddenly, without much thought or planning and are therefore ineffective.  Parents give consequences and children repeat the same behavior.  The cycle is ongoing.

So what makes a consequence effective?

The short answer:  Consequences are ONLY effective if they detour the same behavior from happening again.  Therefore the ONLY point to giving them is if children think twice the next time.

If you’re giving out consequences and they aren’t working,  stop.  Take a step back.  Talk to your spouse.  Come up with a consequence that will be effective.  It will save you time in the long run because the more effective your consequences, the less you will need to give out.