Natural and Logical Consequences are a method child guidance (often called a discipline method) that has certain advantages over other methods- such a timeouts:
All this to say- because natural and logical consequences are connected and make sense- they encourage intrinsic motivation. Our kids want to behave well because behaving badly is inconvenient for them. Behaving well becomes the path of least resistance.
When Can Natural Consequences be used?
Natural Consequences can be used in most situations where they occur- however, there are some instances where they’re wildly inappropriate- I call them the 3 Ds:
In these instances, we need to move to a Logical Consequence instead.
1: Give an overview of where things stand by using a declarative statement. If the child complies- great! You’re done. If not, continue.
2: Ask for the child’s input in the form of a problem-solving question. If the child comes up with an acceptable answer and follows it through- great! You’re done. If not, continue.
3: Provide the appropriate answer and give controlled choices. If the child chooses one of the offered options- great! You’re done. If not, continue.
4: Choose for them and follow through. This step here is the Logical Consequence!
You and your three year old are waiting in the dentist’s office for your appointment. It’s not an environment set up for children- there’s lots of breakable tchotchkes and decorative items around. Your child keeps touching these things, despite your repeated directions not to and attempts to engage them otherwise.
The Natural Consequence in this situation would be that one of the decorative items gets broken. This doesn’t pass the 3D check: it has fallout for someone other than the child. So we need to move on to a logical consequence sequence. So we’d follow our Logical Consequence process:
Declarative statement: “You’re touching the decorations. I’ve asked you to stop.”
Question: “What can you do instead of touching the decorations?”
Answer & Choices: “You can look at a magazine, or you can come hold my hand.”
Choose for them and follow through: “You’re telling me that you’re choosing to come hold my hand.” <- Logical Consequence.
Now, at any point in between each step your child may give their input and comply. You only need to move on to the next step in the process if you continue to observe the behaviour.
Bailey, S. J. (2009). Discipline: A parent’s guide for school-age children. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University Extension.
Gutierrez, E. (2012, April 26). Natural and logical consequences: How implementing them leads to better discipline in children. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Extension.
Steinberg, L. (2004). The Ten Basic Principles of Good Parenting. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.
University of Minnesota Extension. (1995). Positive parenting I: A video-based parent education curriculum. St. Paul, MN: University of Minnesota Extension. This product is no longer available.
Coloroso, B. (1995). Kids are Worth It! Giving Your Child the Gift of Inner Discipline. Toronto, ON: Sommerville House
Gonzalez-Mena, J. (2002) The Child in the Family and Community (3rd ed.) Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall.