What do you think about extreme consequences?

I’m trying to come to terms with some of the logical consequences recommended by other parenting books. We took a Love & Logic class when my oldest was still a toddler and it just rubbed me the wrong way. I thought parts of it were good, but mostly, the logical consequences were too extreme. Couple that with a stance that the consequence, not the parent, does the teaching, and I left feeling confused.

I remember one of the suggestions in the class was in response to two quarreling siblings in the car. Their idea was to plan ahead of time to have a friend drive her car near where you are driving yours. Then you kick the child out of the car and let him walk home with the friend driving secretly behind. Crazy! I would never do that to my child. We have our struggles in the car, but this “consequence,” if you can call it that, would leave him emotionally scarred for life! He would hate and mistrust me for it and I would hate and mistrust myself for it.

Along the same lines, I have the book Creative Correction written by Lisa Welchel (of Facts of Life fame). The book is chock-full of logical consequences, so it’s always a good resource when we’re stuck in the timeout rut. But some of her suggestions are just crazy. Here’s an example:

“If you have a son who insists on getting physical to solve disputes, buy him a pair of boxing gloves. The next time things begin to ‘come to blows,’ pull out the gloves and put them on the boy. Don’t allow him to take them off for the rest of the day. This makes simple tasks like eating dinner, brushing one’s teeth, and putting on pajamas rather difficult. You can even cook popcorn for an after-dinner snack. (Be sure to pull out the video camera!)” (Creative Corrections, p. 212).

I like that she’s creative with her consequences, but this is too much. It’s not as bad as the Love and Logic one, but it’s not great. What happens when the child has to go to the bathroom? Does mom “give in” and take the gloves off or does she make him hold it all day? And what do you do about the blood sugar lows that come from a child who can’t eat his food very well? That would create behavior problems worse than the one you’re trying to correct.

To give the author credit, I’ll also offer a reasonable consequence, from the very same page:

“One rule around our house is that you can’t play with friends if you are treating them better than your own family. If one child has a friend over, she is not necessarily required to include her sibling in everything–but she must be kind. If common courtesy is not extended, her friend has to go home,” (Creative Correction, p. 212).

I like this consequence, not for the part about the friend going home, but for the part that there is a rule about how the children are to behave when friends come over.

This gets to the crux of my issue with extreme consequences, or any logical consequence for that matter. I think any parent who uses logical consequences has to see themselves as their child’s teacher. They cannot allow the consequence alone to do the teaching. This is the main reason why I don’t like Love & Logic. At every turn, the Ezzos teach us that we are our children’s teachers.

What’s more, extreme consequences–like leaving a child on the side of the road or having a child wear boxing gloves all day–teach the child that mom is just nuts! The child would remember the scenario, whatever emotional difficulties that came with it, and the impression that his mom was temporarily crazy. Would he remember the actual lesson that the parent was trying to teach? I doubt it. To go to such an extreme and risk emotionally damaging my children for a lesson that may not even happen anyway is just beyond me.

Oh, and Welchel’s solution to siblings fighting in the car? Buy them separate DVD players and let them watch movies in the car. It’s hard to imagine that a parenting “expert” is encouraging us to use TV as a behavior management tool. We limit our kids’ screen time and only use TV in the car for super-long road trips, so this just wouldn’t work for us.

What do you think about extreme consequences? Feel free to disagree with me! Are there any extreme consequences that you’ve used and that have worked? Did they teach the lesson you were going for? What’s the most extreme consequence you’ve heard of?


  1. Common sense…not so common these days. We’re modeling and pointing to Christ–that’s the whole point of it all. Not just “behavior modification” which can easily be more about me and my stress or comfort than about our children’s well-being. I agree with your post completely.

  2. I’m reading a book by Kevin Leman, and while I do agree with a lot of what he says so far, there has been one “logical consequence” that stood out to me as crazy, he says (and I wish I could remember where I read it, may have been his website) if your child is throwing a temper tantrum, remove them from the room so they don’t have an audience (okay, so far so good) then he goes on to suggest you may even want to put them outside and shut the door and tell them they aren’t allowed in the house around the other family members when they act that way.
    That would be a reward for my child since he LIVES to go outside, also he would run off and be in danger (he’s 2 1/2)
    I’m just not sure who, if anyone, that would work for.
    Your examples are by the far the craziest I’ve ever heard!

  3. I’m in agreement that these consequences are extreme. I’m bummed the book is like that. I just bought love and logic for early childhood but haven’t read it yet. Have you? I hope it’s not harsh guess I will read it since I bought it already. Love your blog too! My DD is only 14 months so redirect is our tool right now. :)

  4. I agree that Love and Logic rubbed me the wrong way with their policy of letting the consequences speak for themselves. I feel like my son (2 yrs) is too young to not be given some guidance on why we act the way we do. If all they act appropriately just to avoid punishment, then we haven’t really accomplished much.

  5. I actually like Love & Logic for early childhood. I originally order L&L and it was regular and geared for much older kids and not applicable….i do recall some scenarios i thought were totally bizarre. I found L&L for early childhood which goes to age 6 as good…i read it 2 years ago and just got it from the library to refresh as i have a new infant. They have the “Uh oh” song and i think it has some very good points in there.
    I’m curious you don’t really apply any L&L? I guess i thought it was more like logical consequences. But L&L more says to let the consequence do the talking and not talk about it after so is that where you feel the parent should talk about it after and explain things? I like logical consequences and think they can be effective. I don’t spank. I can do isolation or more logical consequences,etc. I like L&L trying to teach them how to think through problems. Do you rely mainly on FTO and timeout? My issue is getting creative with logical consequences or coming up with one on the fly. Did you like Creative Corrections overall? I might check that one out. I do FTO and think that’s important. But my main issues now are my 5 and almost 4 YO and they can bicker, not play nice,etc. DD1 always comes and tells me what DD2 does wrong. I try to give her ideas on how to solve. DD2 is the type that likes to irritate in general and get a rise out of people so she can be challenging. She’s in a major testing phase. It’s that 3.5 yr old phase i recall from DD1. So we’re working on that. But i’d say our main issues are more sibling issues/rivalry. They do great most of the time but the small % of the day things need correction it’s that. Do you have these issues? What is most effective for you? Thanks so much! I love this post

  6. This is why I haven’t had any use for Love and Logic so far, it seems wildly inappropriate to the under-6 kids. And it seems more like a last resort as opposed to an everyday kind of solution or a preventative measure. I always think an ounce of prevention (through explicit instruction in times of non-conflict) is worth a pound of cure. I suppose L&L is the pound of cure, lol!

    Anyway, I think an unusual/strong logical consequence can be useful to get a child’s attention if they have are chronically misbehaving/disrespectful, but that, like spanking, it should be used rarely and always followed up by discussion and training afterwards. I know that, for example, in one book I’ve read to take a child’s door off the hinges if they are abusing the privacy of their room (hiding out from the family, lying, stealing, etc) and absolutely if I had a child over age 10 who was lying, stealing, etc then I might take away the freedom of bedroom privacy while telling them they can earn it back when they are more trustworthy…and then follow that up with lots of direct instruction on being trustworthy and limiting freedoms in other areas as well.

    To me the Ezzo’s idea of the funnel is the best logical consequence. If you can’t handle a freedom, you lose it. If you can’t handle temporarily losing a freedom with grace (like if usually you choose clothes but for Easter mom needs to choose your outfit and you throw a fit), then you lose that freedom. And the funnel is parent-directed as well as applicable in so many different situations. There’s nothing more versatile than the concept of freedoms. We even do it with adults, if you drink and drive the cops take away your freedom to drive. If you abuse someone you often end up in jail or with a restraining order, thereby taking away your freedom to be around that person or people in general. And on a more personal level if you’re unkind to someone they will stop hanging out with you, cutting off your freedom to spend time with them.

  7. Manda (or others). I did notice that Moms Notes had a couple things on Understanding the Funnel. Did you read them and if so recommend them? Do they go in a lot of detail? The books have good principles but a lot is vague and left up to the parent to decide. What i find i struggle with is things with my firstborn in general as it’s always new…….then with 2 and 3 i’m much more experienced as i’ve already done it:) So for example i think of having appropriate freedoms at various ages and i don’t really know if it’s age appropriate sometimes or not. To look at other kids often means nothing as i think most kids have too many freedoms. I try to make sure mine don’t get frustrated as they get older from not enough and i guess most issues are probably too much vs too little freedom but do the Moms Notes give more examples and real-world scenarios?

  8. Maureen says:

    The Mom’s Notes go into great detail on the funnel, if I remember correctly. It’s been a while, but I bought the whole set. In fact, if you are thinking about getting them, get the audio version. It’s so much better than the written one.

    When it comes to the funnel, though, basically you need to think more about responsibility, not age. Don’t think about whether a freedom is age appropriate. Ask yourself whether the child has shown the appropriate amount of responsibility for that freedom.

    There’s an easy test you can do to make sure the child can handle a freedom. First allow the freedom for a few days, and then take it away once. How she reacts will tell you a lot. Say you let her choose a book at story time, but then one day you decide you want to choose the book. Does she think it’s fine or does she flip out? If she flips out, you should take that freedom away and try again a few weeks or months later.

    Here’s a post that talks about this subject: http://www.childwisechat.com/2009/06/01/funnel-pitfall-2/

  9. Christy Mather says:

    love your blog and this post – i totally agree! Parenting is a full-time job and God has uniquly prepared us for this responsibility to “train up our children in the way they should go.” thanks for writing!

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