Its Love and Logic Philosophy 101! Since we are preparing kids for the real world, we want them to make mistakes and learn from the consequences. Leading with empathy ensures that they will have a greater likelihood of focusing inwardly on the part they played rather then focusing outwardly on our anger. This also means no lectures, no warnings, no sarcasm and no anger on our part! (Hard but doable - really!)
It starts early and its never too late to change. Here's how it works.
A child leaves a mess of toys all over the floor and you would like them to pick them up before supper.
Parent: Would you like to pick these toys up or should I?
Child: You do it!
Parent: Okay. Toys I pick up go in the toy jail. But don't worry, if you want them back, you can earn them back. If you really don't want them back, that's okay. (Stop here. Don't say anything more! Pick up the toys and put them in an inaccessible place.)
(Note: At this point the child may not care. Perhaps they have too many toys. However, after a few days. all their toys may be gone and they may be more interested in talking to you. By the way some families have a rule about toy jail. Any toys not reclaimed in 30 days go to a local charity to bless children who don't have many.)
What about immediate consequences? That research was done on rats in the 1950s. Children can process delayed consequences and may learn more from a process that plays out over a few days. Your job is to be empathetic about the loss of toys and that they chose not to pick them up. You can also be empathetic about how long it takes to earn a toy back or how "lame" they think your new tool is. Just don't use lectures, warnings, threats, sarcasm, "I told you sos"...etc. Keep reminding yourself to "Let the consequence do the teaching."