Natural and logical consequences are key to raising responsible, respectful, independent children. Unlike punishment, consequences will stop a behaviour permanently. Punishment is effective in stopping a behaviour, but only temporarily, and punishment leads to a child feeling resentful, rebellious and wanting to get revenge. Then the whole reason for the punishment is lost and the focus of the child shifts to ways of getting back, rather than to what is trying to be taught by you giving a punishment in the first place.
What are consequences? Natural consequences are consequences that occur naturally without any intervention and are life’s greatest teacher. The natural consequence of not wearing a coat in cold weather is being cold. For not eating breakfast, it is being hungry until snack time. Of course, some natural consequences, like getting hit by a car for running out into the road is not one that you want to child to experience. As long as the natural consequence does not put the child or anyone else in any danger, then it is acceptable. The child’s safety is paramount!
Logical consequences are those that are imposed and are created by you. However, for a consequence to truly be a consequence it must be REASONABLE, RELATED and RESPECTFUL. If one of these three R’s is missing then the consequence is actually a punishment, so it is important that your consequence not be a disguised punishment. Going to bed for not eating dinner is a punishment as it is not related, reasonable nor respectful. Losing one’s computer privileges for not doing chores is not related. However, losing one’s computer privileges for a day for abuse the computer time limit is related, reasonable and respectful and is a logical consequence. Below are a few logical consequences to some everyday situations. Consequences are meant to teach and you should always leave space for the child to try again. Therefore, the consequence for a first “infraction” is only one day (or a short period of time) and the time increases if the behaviour is repeated.
BEHAVIOUR LOGICAL CONSEQUENCE
Not putting gas in the car after using it Lose the privilege of using the car
Not turning off the computer when time is up Lose computer privileges for the next day
Not cleaning up after playing Lose those toys for a day
Not putting bike away after riding it Can’t use bike the next day
Child spills Child cleans up spill
Remember, and sometimes the hardest thing to do, is to remain calm and use a friendly tone when imposing a consequence on your child. This keeps interactions respectful. The last thing to remember is that consequences do not work with children under three as they have not yet reached the age of reason before three.