The Value of Delaying Consequences

The Value of Delaying Consequences

Feb 23, 2023

Follow the Show

Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Everywhere else

Delaying your response, the conversation, the consequences when it comes to misbehavior is a valuable tool. In this episode, you’ll learn why delaying helps you stay calm and how to use this tool in your parenting.

Misbehavior is rarely an emergency. This is a concept I come back to with my clients again and again. 

When you think that misbehavior is an emergency, your stress response is activated and you want to deal with it right away. Your brain tells you that you are not safe until you get rid of this behavior.

When you’re in your stress response, your reaction might look like:

  • Anger, frustration or disconnection
  • Yelling, shaming or criticizing
  • Struggling to think clearly or set appropriate limits
  • Threatening or bribing

My goal is for you to get to a place where you are not activated by your child’s misbehavior. A place where you can be calm even when they are not.

By delaying consequences, you give yourself time to reset your stress response so that you can show compassion for your kid and teach them new strategies for dealing with their feelings…which ultimately leads to less misbehavior.


Why delaying feels hard

Delaying can feel really hard to do sometimes. During the delay, your kid might still be misbehaving. Your mind tells you that they’re getting away with it, and this can feel pretty terrible. 

You might think that they’re not going to learn from their mistakes, they’ve got to experience the impact now or it won’t matter.

On top of that, you’re trying to put the brakes on your reaction after it’s already started.

And, we feel social pressure to parent in a certain way.

Many of us have been taught that our kids have to have an immediate consequence for it to work. In fact, the opposite is often true. Our kids can’t learn something new when they are in their big feelings or when they’re just so caught up in what they’re doing that they aren’t hearing you or thinking clearly.


How to delay consequences

In the full episode, I share what I call “the popcorn story” which demonstrates how reacting to behavior right away can actually undermine our goals and what we are trying to create within our families.

You have a choice about when and how you will respond to a behavior. 

Just because you are not delivering a consequence right away doesn’t mean you have to ignore it completely. 

You can delay simply by saying something like, “Hmm, I notice you are _____. I’m gonna have to do something about that later.”

You’re letting your kid know that you noticed the misbehavior and that you’re doing something else right now, but they’re not off the hook.

This gives you the time you need to calm yourself down and think about what the lesson is you want to teach. What skill is missing, and how are you going to help them practice it?

Here are few questions to help you decide if you need to delay:

  • Do I have the capacity to manage a consequence right now? Am I calm enough?
  • Have I done connection yet?
  • Do I have time to deal with the big feelings cycle that is going to come along with the consequence?

Telling yourself “I’m going to deal with this, just not right now,” reminds your brain that you’ve got this and you’ll figure it out. It’s not an emergency.


The difference between delaying and avoiding consequences

Your child is not getting away with misbehavior when you delay, because you actually go back and revisit the incident and follow through with the correction conversation.

When we avoid consequences, we don’t follow up. We make a command or threaten a consequence to get our kid to comply. If you keep doing this and don’t follow through, your kid is not going to listen to you. 

And I get it. Parenting is exhausting. Revisiting all these misbehaviors takes a lot of energy. 

Find a way that works for you so that you can commit to following through on consequences. One way is to note the behaviors you want to follow up on, then choose a time to review the week and share with your kids how they can make it up to you (i.e. consequences). I call this Restitution Saturday (or whatever day you want it to be).


The takeaway from this episode is that it’s okay for your kids to “get away with it” for a short time. You don’t have to respond to most behaviors right away. As you learn to pause and delay, you're going to be able to handle all the situations that come up with way more calm. 

You have a lot of power over how things go, and delaying consequences can bring so much peace to your family. 


You’ll Learn:

  • How delaying helps you stay in the present
  • “The popcorn story” and what it teaches us about getting what we really want
  • My favorite phrase for delaying consequences
  • How to use the “hard no” when the misbehavior is hurting someone else


Previous Episodes:

  • Episode 3: Connection is Key to Improving Behavior 
  • Episode 12: When Your Child is Aggressive


Connect With Darlynn: 

Ready to stop yelling?

Get the one simple tool you need to stop yelling at your kids, so you finally feel calmer and connect better. 

You'll learn why you yell, how to stop yourself yelling, 40 things to do instead and scripts for what to say to your kid when you yell.


Connect with Darlynn: