Trouble with Logical Consequences?


Many, many parenting experts tell us all about the importance of logical consequences. These consequences are imposed by the parent and are supposed to relate to the troublesome behavior. But I think there’s a problem with this. There are too many parents who can’t impose logical consequences because they can’t think of any.

I admit I struggle with this myself. It’s far easier to send my boys to sit on their beds in timeout than to think of a consequence that fits the crime. And deep down, I think I know that to take some prized privilege away will break their little hearts. I’m a little too quick to give them second chances.

The truth of the matter is that actions speak louder than words. Taking away a child’s iPad privileges for two weeks will have much greater effect than a daily lecture on the problem that seems to happen day after day.

Understanding this, we can see the value in logical consequences. So why is it so hard to come up with consequences? Practically, it can be difficult to think of a consequence in the heat of the moment. Having a plan and making a list help tremendously.

But even more than coming up with a consequence in the heat of the moment is that our kids simply have so much! If I ever take away my boys’ TV or iPad privileges, they’re happy to go play with their Legos. If I take away their Legos, they have a million other toys they could play with. So what do they care if I take these things away?

By the same token, we need to make sure our kids have enough freedoms that we can take them away. When our restrictions are so tight, we can’t tighten them any more.

I was talking to a friend recently about the fact that she allows her teenage boys to have TVs in their rooms. Without assuming I knew better — I have no idea what it’s like to raise a teenage boy — I asked her why and whether she thought it caused any problems. Her response was that by allowing her boys that freedom, it gave her something to take away when they were causing trouble. She simply holds out her hand and expects them to give her their remotes, with the expectation that they won’t watch at all.

It made me think that we need to allow our kids certain freedoms simply because it gives us fodder for logical consequences. All freedoms should be granted according to the child’s age and level of responsibility, but knowing what freedoms are appropriate and which are not isn’t easy. For some parents, the temptation is to give their kids everything under the sun. Other parents are fearful of allowing their children too much that they have nowhere to go for logical consequences. In my friend’s case, her boys seem clearly responsible to have this freedom because there’s no fight when they lose the privilege. It’s clear that it is a privilege that can be granted and taken away according to the parents’ will.

I don’t assume to know all the answers when it comes to logical consequences. If I’m honest with myself, I don’t even think toys or electronics have any huge effect when I’m implementing a logical consequence. When I see my children at their most difficult times, it’s when the other brother is preoccupied with something. Lucas is like a lost puppy when his brother is away at therapy or busy with some other activity. And William will go to great lengths to not have to play alone. Realizing this, having them play separately is a logical consequence that I need to think about.

But on the other hand, do I really want to get in the middle of their wonderful friendship? Lucas won at a game of Sorry the other day, and because William was whining and complaining about losing, I worried that he was going to lose it the minute Lucas won. But he completely shocked me. He celebrated his brother’s win and gave him huge hugs for it! He was so genuinely happy about his brother’s win, it was as if he had won the game himself.

I’d love to hear about logical consequences in your home. Do you use them? What consequences seem to have the greatest effect?

Speak Your Mind