logical consequences

I’ve made a few blogular promises that I need to make good on.  I’ll start with the follow up from this parenting post about sending an I-message. I promised to post on discipline in the form of logical consequences when the “I-message” fails to change behavior. So, here it is:

Logical consequences* are great because they help your child to learn responsibility and independence. Using logical consequences with your child instead of punishment helps your child to understand that their choices and actions can have consequences. For instance, the logical consequence of not putting dirty clothes in the hamper is that he must do his own laundry…or wear dirty clothes. Sounds good, huh?

Tips & tricks for using logical consequences:

1. Ask the child to help set the consequences. Ex. “I still have a problem with you leaving your belongings in the kitchen. What do you think we can do to solve it?”

2. Give the child a choice:

There are 2 types of choices in using logical consequences:

  • Either-or choices: “Either you may…or you may…you decide.”
  • When-then choices: “When you have…then you may…”

3. Make sure the consequence is really logical. One key to this whole business is that the consequence is logically connected to the misbehavior. Children can more easily see the justice in this and accept their consequence with less resentment.

Not logical:

“Either come to dinner when I call or no TV for a week!” This consequence is arbitrary and will feel unjust. They may also know that you won’t reinforce it for more than a night or morning. Never threaten a consequence you aren’t willing to act on. More on that later…

Try something like this:

“Either come in to dinner when I call or it will get cold—and you may miss it altogether.”

4. Only give choices you can live with.

5. Keep your tone firm and calm.

6. Give the choice one time, then act to enforce the consequence.

7. Expect testing. Your child will test to see if you will do what you say you’re going to do. Be consistent!

8. Allow the child to try again after experiencing the consequences. Example: “It seems you have decided not to play outside this morning. Take care of your room and we can try again this afternoon.”

I’ll be trying these skills on my guy in a few short years…

Information taken from “Active Parenting Now” by Michael H. Popkin, Ph.D.

* this information is ideally used for kids aged 5-12

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