Get creative with logical consequences

In my last post, I discussed natural consequences. The counterpart to natural consequences is logical consequences. What’s the difference? Natural consequences happen as a course of nature or as a direct result of the child’s actions. Logical consequences, on the other hand, are those that you, as a parent, impose on your child to teach a lesson.

“The consequence a parent employs to redirect a child’s thinking and behavior should be logically associated with the offense…. Since the purpose of correction is to help the child become self-governing according to moral principle, parents must choose a consequence that will best serve that purpose,” Growing Kids God’s Way, p. 160.

Here are some examples:

  • Your toddler chooses not to clean up when you told him to, so you take those toys away.
  • Your child refuses to turn off the TV, so you take away TV privileges for the week.
  • Your child has a nasty attitude around family members, so you send him away. If he can’t be nice to others, he must be alone.
  • Your toddler refuses to walk next to you in the grocery store, so you put him in the shopping cart.
  • Your child demands a snack, so you walk away and refuse the snack.

Impose a time limit
When removing privileges as a logical consequence, it’s best to impose a time limit. Tell your child that you will take his Legos away for three or thirty days, depending on the severity of the offense. Tell your child how long it will be before he will get his TV privileges back. State this as a fact when you take the privilege away, not as a threat before you do so.

By all means, don’t allow your child to think he has any influence over when the consequence ends. Don’t allow him to negotiate with you and don’t give the privilege back upon his pleading. If he cannot stop asking for his privilege back, make the time limit even longer. Tell him you will decide when he will have it back.

Earning privileges back
When you reinstate privileges, make sure your child has earned the privilege back. If he continues to refuse to turn off the TV when you say so, he clearly doesn’t have the responsibility to watch TV. If your toddler continues to walk (or run) away from you in the store, he doesn’t have the responsibility to not be in the cart when you shop.

Make consequences memorable
Taking toys away or sending your child to his room are predictable consequences that he might soon forget. Get creative with your logical consequences to improve your child’s chances of remembering the lesson. Maybe your child has a particular attachment to the radio in his room. It’s likely your child has a favorite toy. Perhaps your child lives for going to the park. Figure out what your child is most attached to and use it to your advantage when administering logical consequences.

Remember the intent
Don’t forget the fundamental idea of administering logical consequences. They are not to punish your child for the sake of punishment. Logical consequences are a form of discipline that parents use to teach their child a lesson. So when you remove and reinstate privileges, be sure to explain to your child why he misbehaved and what you expect of him next time.

Logical consequences are arguably the most effective tool in teaching our children appropriate behaviors. Use them well!

Comments

  1. Hey, I’ve been thinking about the time limit concept lately. My son still has no idea how long a period of time is (minutes, days) and I’ve been trying to figure out how I go about taking a toy from him (or taking him down from my lap etc) for a certain period of time. For now I’ll take the privilege away then after a period of time (just whatever really) tell him that he can now have it back. Any thoughts on the best way to do this? Thanks as always!

  2. Hi Rachel,

    For the little ones who have no concept of time, there’s no point in giving a time limit on a consequence. You, not the clock, decides when he gets the privilege back. Just tell him that you are taking the toy away and maybe put it up high to reinforce the idea and say that you will let him know when he can have it back.

  3. Great post! I came across your site on cafemom. I’ll be subscribing to keep up to date with you, very informative. Having a two year old testing me every day, I could use the help.

    Regarding time limits, she has no sense of time either, but I typically use naptime or bed time as a reference point which helps out a lot.

  4. Thanks, Tina! Great idea about using nap time or bed time as a time reference. We also use “the morning” if the consequence lasts longer than one day.

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