Natural Consequences

23 October, 2015

I have read so many books on disciplining my children. 1-2-3 Magic, Redirecting Children’s Behavior, Screamfree Parenting, and others. These books have good information and I’m sure they work for some. My problem is patience and needing to see immediate results. I’ve always needed instant gratification, which has caused me all kinds of trouble. My parenting is no different.

My daughter is a bright little thing. She has this ability to read people, and she’s been able to call bullshit on me pretty easy. Considering she’s only 6, I am going to have to figure this out quick. My son who is only 3 has already figured out that whatever he’s doing to piss me off is way more fun than any empty threats I can throw his way, so he’s just as difficult. Counting to 3? No way. Screamfree Parenting? They just keep doing the same shit while I tell them to knock it off in a calm voice.

Not too long ago I heard another parent talking about natural consequences. I had to read up on it because it sounded a lot like what we adults have to deal with daily. If I show up to work hung over and do a crap job, I get replaced. If I don’t study for a test, chances are I fail. If I do or don’t do this, this is the consequence. Sounds pretty simple, right?

At the beginning of this soccer season, coach dad (me) was trying to convince my daughter to get ready for practice. She screwed around and wasted time, and before she knew it she had missed half of her practice because of it. Interestingly enough, she has been able to make practices and games on time since then. I’ve never been one to listen. Tell me to do something and my knee jerk reaction is to tell you to stick it up your arse. Maybe that’s genetic? Anyhow, it looks like this natural consequences thing is worth a closer look.

Amelia Playing Soccer

Logical consequences are similar, and they’ve been invaluable in getting my little dude to see the cause and effect of behavior. My go to punishment for my kids was always to send them to their room. There is a big problem with this, as my kids have a great time in their rooms. Nothing makes me more frustrated than to send them to their room, just to look in later and see them quietly playing with toys. I want to look in and see them drowning in a pool of their own tears. Seeing them happy and content when I peek in is a slap in the face.

The idea of logical consequences has served me well, and possibly averted some serious harm to my son lately. He’s 3, and he’s learned to ride a bike really early. The little guy takes off and it’s really amazing to watch, considering my enthusiasm for all things bicycle. His problem is that he loses the ability to make good decisions because he’s so excited. He recently rode his bike right into the middle of the street without waiting for me, or at least looking both ways. The car that was cruising along came to a screeching stop, and gave me the death look as I ran as fast as I could to catch up to him and take him out of harms way. I decided that the logical consequence for this was to take his bike away for 3 days, one day for each year of age. He screamed and pleaded with me, but I stood fast and held my ground. Guess what! He stops now and waits for me before he rides across the street. I haven’t had a problem since.

Myles on the bike

There are so many strategies for disciplining your child out there that it’s hard to keep up. And with every strategy available, there’s an opinion about why that strategy is the best one. Well you know what they say about opinions right? If you’re anything like me and need immediate gratification, and your attention span doesn’t allow for consistent follow through in any of these strategies, take a look into natural and logical consequences. Let the kids face the consequences of their decisions if it doesn’t put them in harms way, and try to have consequences that fit the crime. Sending my son to his room for riding his bike in the street wouldn’t have done a thing except piss me off when I looked in and saw him playing with his sister’s Barbies. Take a look at this article on natural and logical consequences, and give those kids some big love.

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