Children learn appropriate behaviour very effectively once they experience the negative consequences of poor choices. Sometimes, though, the consequences negatively affect others and not the child directly so the lessons are not as immediate or clear. To help teach children learn respect, parents can implement logical consequences as a means of discipline. Logical consequences differ from natural consequences, and it is important to discuss them with children and teens as well as follow through with them once such discussions have taken place.
Natural Versus Logical Consequences
Natural consequences are those which arise naturally from an action. For example, children who touch a hot cooker will be burned and those who go outside in the snow with no coat on will become cold. These are different from logical consequences, which require adults to step in for the consequence to occur. Logical consequences are those which teach the behaviours our families and society find appropriate, but would not necessarily naturally occur following a behaviour. These consequences are designed to teach children. Examples of logical consequences include:
- Continuing to bang a drunk will result in the drum being taken away.
- Sneaking cake after school will result in no cake after dinner.
- Not bringing uniforms to the laundry will result in no clean clothes for school.
- Pinching or biting will result in not being able to play with others for a little while.
- Watching inappropriate television programmes will result in no TV for a week.
Logical Consequences with Children
Logical consequences work best with children when the children are advised of the consequences before they are confronted with a decision. Usually this occurs after a child has made a bad decision a time or two and a parent must address the situation. When using logical consequences with children, be sure to:
- Advise of the behaviour that will have a consequence.
- Talk about why the behaviour is a bad choice for the child.
- Help the child realise how his or her actions may affect others.
- Explain why a consequence will take place following a behaviour.
- Clearly state the consequence that the child can experience.
- Discuss the time limit on the consequence (for the rest of the day, week, etc).
- Implement the consequence immediately following a child’s next bad decision.
- Use consistency so that children know a consequence will always occur and not chance it.
- Remind a child why the consequence is necessary every time it is implemented.
Logical Consequences and Teenagers
Teenagers who have never experienced the logical consequences of bad decisions will be less likely to make good decisions than those who have. In fact, teens who have never experienced logical consequences may believe that their actions don’t matter and/or that someone else will always be around to fix their mistakes and make sure their lives aren’t complicated by their own actions. For such teens, allowing natural consequences to result from their behaviours is a good first step. Once they understand that their actions will have consequences, then parents may want to implement logical consequences of their own much as they would with younger children. Of course if a teen’s choices might harm him or her or anyone else then parents must step in and stop it immediately.
Logical consequences teach children respect and discipline because they allow children to very clearly understand the relationship between their decisions and the consequences they suffer. Logical consequences are distinct from natural consequences, but both work very effectively to encourage appropriate behaviour in children and teens.