Tuesday Topic: How Do I Balance Grace and Consequences?

Tuesday Topics are back with this question from Emily:

How do you incorporate your child’s triggers and mental health needs into consequences and discipline?

My early elementary-age daughter recently damaged some of her clothes, which is something we’ve battled on and off for three years. Under normal circumstances, this would result in significant consequences.

But I also know that this time of year is very rough for her and that she’s facing a big transition with school starting this week. Trying to balance grace for her but also teaching her boundaries of unacceptable behavior is an area I really struggle with a parent and I’d be happy to hear your communal advice.

This is a great question from Emily. Many of you can contribute, even it’s to say, “Me too, I have this same struggle!”

I love it when we help another mom, which actually helps many of us. Please chime in! No comment or thought is too small or simple. We want to hear from you.

If you have a question you would like me to share for a Tuesday Topic, please email it to lisa@onethankfulmom.com  with “Tuesday Topic” in the subject line.

I look forward to hearing from you.

encourage one another,


This post may contain Amazon Affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.


  1. Debbie
    August 15, 2017

    This is quite difficult and I still struggle with it everyday. For one of my children it has helped to realize what “emotional” age we feel that child is. The kid is older, but emotionally we feel the reactions are probably more on a 2 or 3 year old level. So, if we keep that in the forefront of our mind we can then make these decisions as we would if the child were younger. For example, I should be able to assign a chore and leave the room. Would I ask a 2 or 3 year old to pick up toys and then walk away thinking it would get done? No, so I have to stay and encourage and work alongside. I vacillate between days of getting this and days of missing the mark totally. I have to consistently call this child back to school work or chores, or whatever. If I see the child as 11 I would be frustrated and angry, but when I remember they operate younger it goes much smoother.

  2. Emily
    August 15, 2017

    Well, unrelated to the specific topic. But Lisa, love your new graphic! The coffee cup with “Encourage One Another” on it. Thumbs up!

    Love you!

  3. Don’t you wish there were manuals for such moment?!? Kudos to you for recognizing that the transition to school is a hard time for her.
    Sometimes it’s even hard when to let natural consequences take their course.
    I enjoyed what this had to say. http://www.parentingwithconnection.info/2017/08/acceptable-consequences-for-connected-parenting/
    Remember that behavior is communication, so she may be telling you that she needs a lower bar and a smaller world during the transition.
    During a time when you can tell she’s feeling safer, you can debrief with her why she did that and what more acceptable things she could do to cope in the future.
    If the damage doesn’t make the clothes unwearable, I would also ask myself if it’s a battle worth fighting…at least for now.
    I have a decision flowchart on my blog that you may find useful.

    1. Lisa Qualls
      August 16, 2017

      Thanks for this great comment, Melissa. Lots of good stuff here.

  4. Jane
    August 16, 2017

    The comments above are excellent. I don’t have a lot to add, other than if you aren’t sure, I’d lean toward grace. You can always discuss the situation later, when emotions diffuse, and even decide to add a consequence if necessary. But it’s hard to pull back from a consequence once given. Connecting is a great way to teach, and extending grace is usually a better way to connect than harsh punishment. I think you’ll know in your heart when the line has been crossed and consequences are more appropriate.

    1. Lisa Qualls
      August 16, 2017

      Jane, really good points. Our children learn best when they are in connection with us – and we can add the consequence later when everyone has had time to cool down and think about what is best. Sometimes the consequence I think is appropriate in the moment when I’m mad, disappointed, embarrassed (name the emotion), is not the consequence I would choose if my brain was calm and operating in a more rational way. Thank you!

  5. Cici
    August 20, 2017

    I’m not sure if this exactly fits this question, but I find that role-playing and practicing behaviors in advance (all summer?) really cuts down on the in the moment stress. If we can get new reactions into muscle memory we can avoid some undesirable behaviors or meltdowns.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

I accept the Privacy Policy