Instructional Versus Correctional Responses
When your son or daughter has broken a rule or misbehaved, you must determine whether an instructional or corrective response is called for. If your child didn't understand the rule or value — didn't know any better — then you need to make an instructional response, explaining your position once again. “The reason for not saying I am away from home over the phone is that I don't want strangers knowing you are here alone for a little while. Simply tell the person that I cannot come to the phone right now, and ask for a number I can call back.”
If your child did understand the rule or value — did know better — but chose to misbehave anyway, then a corrective response may be in order. For example, you may impose some negative consequence to discourage the child from repeating the infraction or behavior. This also demonstrates that you are serious about this particular disciplinary issue.
Do not use correction with a child who didn't know what you wanted to have happen. “But you never told me!” cries the child, feeling betrayed by your unfair response. Hold your child accountable only for following rules and values that you've instructed her about repeatedly.
When you correct him, however, you should follow the correction with instruction (reteaching) so the child knows how to act differently the next time. Part of being reproached for doing wrong is being reminded of what constitutes doing right. “Because you knew that taking my tools without my permission is wrong, you need to help me clean up the house for an hour before going out to play. In the future, if you want to borrow something of mine, you need to ask me first.”