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Natural and Logical Consequences
Natural Consequences
[Cartoon: Staying up late and falling asleep in school]

Natural consequences are those things that happen in response to your child's behavior without parental involvement. These are imposed by nature, society, or another person. You do not actually deliver a natural consequence yourself. Instead, you allow nature or society to impose the consequence on your child by not interfering.

Child's Behavior Natural Consequence
Stays up late and is late for school She feels tired the next day, the teacher is angry and makes her stay after school.
Refuses to wear mittens Her hands get cold.
Refuses to eat dinner She feels hungry.
Smokes marijuana She feels "high" and gains acceptance from peers. She may be suspended from school if caught.
Shoplifts clothes at store She gets free clothes. She may be caught and arrested.
Plays with cigarette lighter She burns her hand or possibly sets the house on fire.
Leaves toys out in the rain The toys rust or are stolen.

[Cartoon: Leaving tricycle outside and having it rust]

Natural consequences are a very effective form of discipline. However, you can see from the examples above that natural consequences do not always deter behavior. Here are some examples of when natural consequences do not work:

Natural consequences only work if they are undesirable to your child and you do not interfere. Carefully choose the conditions when you allow natural consequences to occur and they will be very effective.

Test Your Knowledge!

Choose a response to each situation below using natural consequences when appropriate. Click the letter next to the response you choose.

1. [Cartoon: Leaving tricycle outside]Situation: Victor leaves his tricycle outside.

A You leave the tricycle outside and tell Victor, "If you leave your tricycle out it will rust or be stolen."
B You put the tricycle in the garage.
C You tell Victor, "If you don't bring that tricycle in, I'm going to be very unhappy with you."

2. Situation: Gabriel refuses to wear a coat outside even though it is cold and rainy.

A You say "Don't be ridiculous!" and put the coat on him.
B You slap him and yell, "I'm tired of arguing with you over every little thing. Put that coat on now!"
C You allow him to go outside without his coat.

3. Situation: Shantelle refuses to do her homework.

A You send her to bed without dinner.
This punishment is imposed by the parent, so it is not a natural consequence. It is also unrelated to the misbehavior, so it is not good discipline either. Try again.
B You don't interfere.
C You say "Let me help you with that. It looks pretty hard, but I bet we can figure it out."

4. [Cartoon: Child with axe]Situation: Seven year old Kim is using a sharp axe to build a "fort."

A You let her continue.
B You scream " Kim! Put that down immediately!" and spank her.
C You scream "Kim! Put that down immediately!" then explain the danger and offer to help her find a safer way to build the fort.

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