Wednesday, October 23, 2013

What are natural and logical consequences?

I am frequently asked by my clients with children about the use of natural and logical consequences and how they can be more effective in guiding our kids to improved choice making.  I have to reflect back to one of my first encounters with the value of natural consequences.
One of my "wise women" mentors advised me after the birth of my baby boy to not put too much energy into "baby-proofing" the house.  She felt it was all unnecessary and that a child will learn better if everything remained natural in the home environment.  She recommended not moving all my porcelain nick-nacks and vases.  "Allow the baby to grow up seeing and normalizing all the precious things so he can learn to be gentle and careful at times" she said.  "Do this right from the start to condition him" was her advice.  To save myself a lot of redecorating trouble, I followed her suggestion and happily she was correct.  My little boy developed his ability to be careful and gentle quickly.  He seemed to enjoy sitting with me and handling (with my help), a music box or a tea cup.  These interactions enabled him to develop "soft touches" that later transferred when playing with other children.  He had learned the concept of "gentle". 
This experience was one of natural consequences.  These traits were learned through a natural sequence of events. I did not have to intercede. The breakable nick-nacks stayed put and the child learned naturally that this was normal to see and be around such things, and in addition, that mommy praised him when he was gentle with certain things in the house.  These skills then later help him control his actions.  

Now, what about logical consequences? These involve some action taken by the care-taker.  If for example, my son had been too rough with something, then the logical consequence would be to put that item away until he could show me he could be gentle.   Another classic example of a logical consequence is when a child leaves his/her bicycle out in the street and it gets run over; the child has to earn the money to pay for a new one.  The child is being held accountable for his actions.  Or let's say that he/she gets into something they are not supposed to and makes a mess.  They have to be part of the clean up and maybe even the replacing of what they wasted.  

The missing link in making these effective is the communication that needs to happen after one of these learning opportunities arise.  An age appropriate conversation has to take place after the dust has settled, exploring how choices and actions resulted in the consequences and how these choices and actions effect others.  Then you need to pile on the praise when they have done what was asked.  This is the glue that holds the memory strong. Forgiveness and praise! 

Taking away the i-pad because the child has a temper tantrum at the store hasn't any sequential logic. It's too far a stretch for a child to understand.  Try to bridge the behavior to the consequence so that they can learn from their experience.  Then discuss what took place when everyone is calm again and help them see the connection. 

Guiding our children in ways that make sense, tying actions and choices to their natural and logical consequences is the foundation for effective boundary setting and creates safety and clear expectations for kids.  

For more information on how to be the most effective parent you can be, call or email me to set up a consultation.  It could prove to be invaluable!, 404-702-8474

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