Can I clarify something? I often see people misusing the term “natural consequences.” The grammar snob in me cannot let this go. Natural consequences and logical consequences are two very different things. Both forms of consequences happen as a direct result of the child’s actions. But how they happen is very different.
Here’s the difference: Natural consequences are imposed by someone or something other than the parent. Logical consequences are imposed by the parent or other authority figure (like a teacher).
Here are a few examples of logical consequences:
- The child whines when you say it’s time to turn off the TV, so you take away his TV privileges for 2 days.
- The child doesn’t eat his veggies at dinner, so you don’t allow dessert.
- The child refuses to clean up, so you take his toys away.
Now, here are a few examples of natural consequences:
- The child runs downhill on a slippery surface and falls and hurts himself.
- The child pulls a cat’s tail, and the cat scratches him.
- The child mistreats a friend and loses the friend.
- The child chooses not to eat dinner and is starving in the morning.
Do you see the difference? You have no involvement in natural consequences. And you know what? Natural consequences are so much more powerful because they come from someone other than mom. Funny how our kids are so willing to listen to somebody or something other than us. So whenever your child is approaching a situation that may end in a natural consequence, give him fair warning, but let it happen. He’ll be much more likely to learn from it.