Natural & Logical Consequences
Allowing children to make their own choices is a cornerstone of authoritative parenting. Natural and logical consequences can provide the best learning experiences as long as they’re allowed to occur safely and respectfully. Rather than coercing children to comply, parents shape healthy behavior over time.
Consequences teach kids that actions have effects. Some effects may be desirable, some may not. The lessons that flow from choosing an action and experiencing the consequences are often more effective than being told what to do.
Natural consequences occur naturally. They often result from the physical environment.
For example, if a child doesn’t put on mittens in winter, his fingers get cold. If a child wears warm pajamas to bed in summer, she’ll get hot.
It’s important to be careful with natural consequences since some can be dangerous. You wouldn’t want your child playing close to the fireplace or a hot burner.
Logical consequences are directly linked to behavior, but structured by the parent.
Some examples of logical consequences include:
- When a child is loud and bothering others: “You’ll need to spend a little time in your room to calm down and cool off so you can get along with everyone in the family area.”
- When a child won’t get ready for school: “When you’ve finished getting ready for school, you can watch TV.”
- When you have two quarreling children at the grocery store: “We’ll have to leave the grocery store because you two have been fighting so much.”
Logical consequences work best when the children know about them ahead of time. In the grocery store example, it’s best if Mom tells her kids before they go in that if they use their angry hands, they’ll leave.
Sometimes threats can be confused with consequences.
The difference? Consequence are intended to thoughtfully teach children and allow them to make choices. Threats rely on power and coercion, and often result in power struggles.
If you’re trying to get what you want or control the child, you may be using a threat as opposed to a logical consequence.