Monday, March 22, 2010

Natural & Logical Consequences

Natural consequences occur naturally, hence the name. They are not controlled or manipulated by anyone. When you plant a flower in your garden and take care of it, it grows. That is a positive example of natural consequences. When you put your finger in an electric socket, you get a shock. That is an example of negative natural consequences.

Logical consequences are situations engineered by the person in authority and they are logically connected to the wrong. It is logical because it "fits" the offense. For example, if your teen breaks curfew, he/she isn’t allowed out the next night. If he/she doesn’t eat dinner, he/she doesn’t get dessert. These are examples of negative logical consequences. Setting up a reward system for good grades and giving the reward when the grade is obtained is an example of a positive logical consequence.

When parents want their children to learn from their mistakes, they have the choice of allowing the child to deal with the natural consequences or set up logical consequences. But how do you choose between the two types of consequences? When is one more effective than the other?

Discipline choices are never easy. When natural consequences are immediate they are very effective. Logical consequences are most effective when they are creative and create a burden for the child so that there is discipline and learning involved.

Hopefully knowing the difference between natural and logical consequences will help. Whether using a natural or logical consequence, it is also helpful for parents to simply and briefly explain the consequence to their kids and not allow themselves to get drawn into an argument or debate. Should children not respond to the parents' communication of consequences and mend their ways, parents must follow through and deliver the consequences all of the time. If parents forget, back down, or don't follow through with the consequence as promised even just a few times, children will learn that consequences aren't real (or at least, can be manipulated) and this knowledge will double their efforts to misbehave again in the future (because they will think they can get away with it).

1 comment:

  1. Very good description of the difference between natural and logical consequences. It is true that logical consequences take creativity to make sure that it matches the crime, so to speak. As a parent, I've noticed that sometimes we give a punishment based on how our children's action made us feel (usually angry), and instead we need to create a consequence that matches their mistake so there is a solid reason behind it. This way they will actually learn their lesson and benefit from the discipline, not be damaged by a punishment.