Raising children is a fun and rewarding experience, but it can also be difficult. Discipline is one of the most difficult aspects of parenting and also one of the most important. Below is an outline of natural consequences, a discipline technique encouraged by parents and child professionals alike, as well as an overview of logical consequences, a technique used in situations where natural consequences won't work.
What are Natural Consequences?
Natural consequences occur as a direct result of your child's behavior. These consequences are the most effective at curbing a number of behaviors and actions and can be easily implemented.
An example of a natural consequence is a child refusing to wear weather-appropriate clothing at their parent's urging. If forcing your 8-year old to wear a sweater will turn into a screaming match, it's best to let your child's actions unfold naturally. In this example, your child will likely end up cold. The next time this situation arises, your child will remember the past consequence of not wearing their sweater at your urging and may choose to follow directions without any argument.
How Can Natural Consequences be Used?
The beauty of natural consequences is that they require very little implementation on the part of the parent. This helps your child to see that their actions do have consequences and when something happens as a result of their choice, they cannot blame you for it.
While some parents may consider the above example unusually cruel, it's important to remember that the majority of 8-year olds understand that sweaters are used to keep you warm when it's chilly outside and that refusing to wear one will cause them to be cold. It's important that natural consequences are age-appropriate and their effectiveness can be bolstered by talking about the situation. For example, if your child complains of being cold after they chose not to wear their sweater, you can ask them what they can do next time to avoid it.
When Natural Consequences Aren't Enough
While natural consequences can be a great way to ensure that your child learns from their actions without having daily power struggles between you and them, there is a point where natural consequences aren't enough.
Logical consequences are another disciplining tool that can be used in cases that involve your child's safety and well being. For example, if you tell your child that they must hold your hand while crossing the street and they refuse, a logical consequence would be for them to hold your hand during your entire walk. The above example is one that involves the safety of your child, but it also involves obedience. Since the natural consequence of not holding your hand while in the street could be dangerous, implementing a logical consequence is your only option. Since your child could not follow your instructions to hold your hand while in the street, it's only logical that they need further guidance on your walk and require your hand for the entirety of it.
To learn more about natural consequences and how they can help you to help your child, consult with a pediatric counselor or child development professional or click for more.