Navigating through the often-turbulent waters of parenting can be both a joy and a challenge, especially during the developmental stages of toddlers and pre-schoolers. A significant facet of parenting during these crucial years revolves around implementing consequences and setting clear boundaries for young children. But why is this so important, and how does it impact a child’s development?

What are Consequences?

Consequences, in the realm of parenting and child development, refer to the outcomes or results that naturally follow a specific behaviour or action. They can be both positive and negative, intended to either encourage or discourage behaviours in children. For instance, a child might receive praise (a positive consequence) for sharing toys or experience a timeout (a negative consequence) for hitting a sibling.

The Importance of Consequences

  1. Development of Self-Regulation:

Consequences help children develop self-regulation, which is pivotal for emotional, social, and cognitive development. A study by Eisenberg, Spinrad, and Eggum (2010) highlights the importance of self-regulation in early childhood for adaptability, social competence and academic performance.

  1. Understanding Cause and Effect:

Consequences allow children to make the connection between their actions and outcomes, understanding the cause-and-effect relationship. This comprehension aids in developing reasoning skills and moral understanding (Kochanska, Aksan, Prisco, & Adams, 2008).

  1. Establishing Security through Boundaries:

Boundaries and consistent consequences offer a sense of security. Knowing the limits and what’s expected of them provides children with a safe, predictable environment in which they can explore and learn.

Setting Boundaries with Compassion

Implementing consequences doesn’t mean parents need to be mean and harsg. It is paramount to approach boundary-setting with understanding, clarity, and empathy. By explaining the reasons behind the boundaries and expressing love and reassurance even when enforcing consequences helps children learn that while their behaviour might not be acceptable, they are always loved and valued.

The Natural Outcome: Navigating Through Emotions

It’s natural and healthy for children to exhibit a range of emotions in response to consequences, including sadness or frustration. Being upset about a consequence is a part of understanding its impact and making different choices in the future.

As parents, it’s essential to validate their emotions and offer comfort while staying firm in enforcing boundaries. Dr. Becky Bailey, an expert in childhood education and developmental psychology, emphasizes the importance of recognizing and validating children’s emotions while maintaining consistency in enforcing consequences.

Assuring Parents: Consistency is Key

It’s crucial to acknowledge the emotional labour involved in consistent parenting. Enforcing consequences and watching your child navigate through those difficult emotions can be tough. But remember, by doing so, you’re nurturing a secure and stable environment that will foster resilience and emotional intelligence in your child.


Implementing consequences and establishing clear boundaries for toddlers and pre-schoolers isn’t just a disciplinary action. It’s a carefully crafted tool that aids in sculpting their understanding of the world, enhancing their emotional intelligence, and fostering an environment where they can thrive. Consequences help our kids navigate through life’s challenges effectively. Rest assured, your consistency and loving boundaries pave the way for a secure and loving life.


  • Eisenberg, N., Spinrad, T. L., & Eggum, N. D. (2010). Emotion-related self-regulation and its relation to children’s maladjustment. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 6, 495–525.
  • Kochanska, G., Aksan, N., Prisco, T. R., & Adams, E. E. (2008). Mother-child and father-child mutually responsive orientation in the first 2 years and children’s outcomes at preschool age: Mechanisms of influence. Child Development, 79(1), 30-44.
  • Bailey, R. A. (2001). Conscious Discipline: 7 Basic Skills for Brain Smart Classroom Management. Oviedo, FL: Loving Guidance.