Natural Consequences: What are they & which ones work?
Updated: Oct 20, 2019
Last week I talked about natural consequences as a magical discipline approach that marries boundaries with the love kids need. I get questions all the time about what natural consequences are and how to use them - here's where to start! If you feel like it's too generalized for you, you're probably right! Every family is different and the best way to get personalized support from me is to take advantage of my free breakthrough sessions. It's a free hour of coaching - why would you pass that up? ;)
Natural consequences is fancy parenting expert lingo for letting children make their own decisions (within reason) and experiencing the results of those decisions.
Natural Consequences DO:
- empower kids
- make kids unhappy sometimes
- require thought and engineering sometimes
- correlate with the child's decision
- enable parents to discipline without anger or shame
- apply to kids of all ages
Natural Consequences DO NOT:
- just 'happen'
- punish children
- require long explanations or lectures
- shame or hurt kids
What is a good consequence?
'Natural consequences' is a bit of a misnomer, in my opinion, because people often confuse them for a laissez faire parenting approach, but that is not the case. Effective consequences don't just happen - they require thought and engineering sometimes. Not every child will respond the same to every consequence, and kids will keep you on your toes; it's only a matter of time before a behavior comes along that you haven't prepared a consequence for. I love teaching my clients many 'catch-all' consequences they can use to respond to anything, but sometimes it still takes some tweaking to find the perfect fit. The secret combo is a consequence that has something to do with the choice the child made, and really matters to the child.
Will it work?
That depends on how you deliver the consequence. While consequences on their own are not shaming or hurtful to kids, delivering them by yelling ("That's it! Go to your room right now and think about your mistake!"), including a lecture ("Now, why did you have to scrub the crayon off the wall? Do you know what you did wrong?"), or shaming, ("How could you have behaved that way in front of your grandmother?!?!") almost never elicit the behavior change the parents want. Staying calm and compassionate while your child experiences their consequence is where the magic happens.
Want help crafting consequences that fit your family? Reach out anytime and let's talk! Over the next few weeks I'll dive in a little more to the principles behind all my discipline work, and show you how to tweak your delivery to make your consequences really effective. Stay tuned!
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