Parenting Tips: Curious about Consequences

Consequences and clear boundaries are an important part of the parenting journey, but how can we use consequences effectively? In this post we define the difference between natural and logical consequences, and offer some useful tips. Don’t forget, consequences can also be positive!



What is the difference between natural and logical consequences?

Natural Consequences are those things which happen in response to your child's behavior without parental involvement. Nature, society or another person imposes these. For example: Your child refuses to wear mittens so their hands get cold. Natural consequences only work if you do not interfere and if the consequence is undesirable to your child.

Note: Sometimes natural consequences are too dangerous. Never allow the natural consequence to endanger the health and safety of your child. For example, playing with matches may lead to a fire.

Logical Consequences are options you suggest to your child. They are different from natural consequences because they are presented by you instead of nature or society. You should choose the consequences related to the unacceptable behavior. For example: Your child draws on the wall so the markers are taken away.



Tips for Giving Consequences

  • Give consequences immediately following the unacceptable behaviour.

  • Be specific. If you want them to clean their room, say exactly what you want them to do.

  • Be brief. State the consequences in a statement or two. Do not get into a big discussion about irresponsibility.

  • Be consistent in your consequences.

  • Always follow through.


6 Things to Remember

  1. Never use a threat. Avoid saying things like, " You're going to get it!" or "Do it or else...". Threats have no teaching value.

  2. Do not confuse a consequence with a bribe. A bribe is a reward given in advance, for example, "I'll let you play if you clean up your room later." A consequence comes after the desired behavior happens: "If you clean up your toys fast, we can read another story at bedtime."

  3. Remember to give positive consequences as well! Reward the behavior you want to see.

  4. Do not let negative consequences snowball. Your child may taunt you by continuing to misbehave while you add consequence after consequence. Soon, you may find yourself in a position where you have promised more consequences than you can deliver. Your child may also feel they have nothing to lose and continue to misbehave.

  5. Do not start with huge consequences. If you ground your child for a month then what's next? If you child earns $10 for cleaning their room, they will expect more for bigger jobs. Use the smallest possible consequence.

  6. Don't give up. Consequences must be repeated consistently, over a long period of time to have a lasting effect on behaviour.


We hope this helped! If you have any questions, please feel free to connect with Natasha Horne at nhorne@thenorthgrove.ca



Information compiled from:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/the-verge/201411/natural-consequences


https://depts.washington.edu/allcwe2/fosterparents/training/natlog/nat04.htm