There are many methods we can use to teach and train our children. One of the most effective ways I have found—especially with children 7-years of age and older—is to use natural and logical consequences.
So often, when our children forget something they need, leave something out, or don’t get an assignment done, our first response is to run to their rescue. While it is admirable to help them, we may be doing them a disservice by rushing in to take care of their problem for them.
It’s hard to stand back and let our children experience the pain of their forgetfulness; however, it’s part of allowing them to suffer the consequences of their decisions. The longer we run to their aid, the more we delay them becoming responsible and learning the needed lesson.
So here are my guidelines for incorporating natural and logical consequences into your parenting toolbox.
- Give them prompts. Especially as they are younger and learning to be responsible, give them some reminders as they prepare for something. What do you need for football practice? Are all your homework assignments ready and in your backpack? Do you have your phone so you can call me for a ride? Help them to get used to asking these questions of themselves.
Begin to let them be responsible. Slowly and carefully, back off on the reminders and only ask general questions that give your child an opportunity to think through the process. Encourage their own problem-solving as they prepare to walk out the door.
Let nature take its course. One of the best ways to allow our children to learn is to stand out of the way and let the natural consequences unfold. If they forget their lunch, they may have to skip a meal. If a homework assignment is left at home, they take the resulting consequence of a missed assignment. There should be plenty of grace when they are young, but as they get older they need own more of the responsibility.
Give a related consequence. When a natural consequence is not an option, come up with a logical or related consequence as a negative reinforcement for the lesson. If your 7-year old forgets his bike in the driveway, leaving it there to be backed over by the car is not an option. But taking his bike away for a period of time is a related consequence that is connected to not putting it away.
Take age into consideration. The older a child is, the more responsible we should expect him to be and the harder the consequences need be in order to teach the lesson. In the example above, taking your son’s bike away for a month is not appropriate for a 7-year-old. Just a day or two would do the trick.
Take frequency into consideration. If a child is repeatedly forgetting the same thing, maybe it’s time to increase the logical consequences. When he is not learning his lesson, the pain obviously isn’t sufficient enough to affect a change in the behavior.
Sometimes it’s hard to stand back and not protect your children from natural and logical consequences. But the earlier you use this as part of your training technique, the earlier they will respond by learning the lesson at hand.
Remember, you are not being mean to them, but assisting them in their growth as responsible young adults.
Question: How do you let natural and logical consequences cultivate responsibility in your kids? Share your answer in the comments below.