When my oldest daughter was four, it was the day before Easter, and she was messing around in some fashion. I don't remember what she was doing, but she shouldn't have been. So, me, thinking I was rather a clever father, I told her that if she continued, the Easter Bunny wouldn't come and hide her eggs and bring her anything for her basket.
For some reason, my threat didn't affect her and she kept misbehaving. My wife and I got her down for bed, and my wife said it was time to hide the eggs. I hated having to say it, but I told her we couldn't. My wife thought I was crazy. I told her that I warned our daughter if she didn't shape up, the Easter Bunny wouldn't come. After a lot of convincing, my wife allowed me to follow through.
When our daughter awoke on Easter morning, she was stunned to find no hidden eggs and only a note in her basket from the Easter Bunny. The Bunny explained that she hadn't behaved properly and that he didn't leave any surprises.
I know. I'm the meanest dad on earth, right? Believe me; it was the hardest thing I had ever done as a parent. I regretted making that threat. But, what I to this day believe I did right, was sticking to the consequence. Had I not, my word would have meant nothing and my daughter would have learned that the consequences I warn her about may come to fruition, but, then again, they might not.
The Easter Bunny gave my girl an out. He told her that if she could behave properly by her nap, while she slept, he would return and leave her gifts and eggs. That girl was on her best behavior and while at church services that morning, there was someone dressed in a bunny costume. My daughter approached and asked, "Am I doing good, Easter Bunny?" Of course the person in the suit had no idea what she was talking about. He nodded. She squealed with delight, ran over to us and said, "I'm doing good. He's coming back during my nap!"
She'd never been so excited to sleep in her life. When she awoke, her eggs were hidden and her basket was full. She and I both learned an important lesson that Easter Sunday. She learned that there are boundaries and consequences. If the boundaries are crossed, the consequences will be followed. And, I learned that if I'm not willing to stick to the consequences, I shouldn't threaten with them. Consequences should be something we can live with, and we MUST adhere to them!