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Sometimes the best form of discipline is to let the child experience the consequences of his or her action. What happens if you fail to put gas in your car? Are you likely to forget to put gas in again? Experience really is the best teacher.

Natural and logical consequences are effective ways to intervene while maintaining respect for the child's ability to make decisions. Consequences rely to some degree on the natural order of life itself to teach lessons about the world. In some instances you might have to arrange for a consequence to happen.

Natural consequences are things that happen in response to a behavior. No one has to make these things happen. They are often the result of the "rules of nature." For example when a child does not eat his dinner, he will get very hungry before he goes to bed. Sometimes a natural consequence is the result of human nature. The child who hits his friends will lose playmates.

A disadvantage of relying on natural consequences is that sometimes they take a long time to work. Also, young children may have difficulty understanding them. Some natural consequences are not desirable.

Logical consequences require that the parent impose a consequence for a given behavior. The consequence connects to the behavior that is not acceptable. For example, if the child leaves the bike out, the parent restricts bike riding the next day.

In order for consequences to be effective you must use them correctly.

  • Be sure to provide choices and allow the child to make the decision. For example, "You may turn down the volume of your radio, or listen to it in your room without disturbing others."
  • Be calm and firm in your efforts.
  • Make sure the consequence holds meaning for the child.
  • Be patient and don't jump in and "save" the child. It may be hard for you to watch the child experience the consequences. But this is necessary for the child to develop good self-control.

Content used with permission from the Child Welfare League of America,



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This content was last modified on: 09/08/2008

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