Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Logical Consequences

I wish all consequences could be natural........

My 8 year old daughter pointed out my parental inadequacies this week.  Without going into details, we had a conflict in our house this weekend.  I imposed a consequence for behavior which I felt was disrespectful.  My 8 year old said to me, “Mom, your big thing lately has been Logical Consequences.  How is what you did logical?”  Gee.....let me think......it wasn’t.  Hmm.  My bad.
My bad.  I am willing to admit that I am far from perfect.  I wish so desperately that I had an instruction manual to parent my girls.  This time I had to take some direction from my child.  Upon reflection I decided that my consequence was not a consequence, it was a punishment.  I returned the material item that I have taken away and decided that a logical consequence would be to take on a chore that is not normally done by my child every day for a week.  It seems logical to me that the result of disrespecting a parent would be to help that parent out in a very meaningful way.  
I first heard of logical consequences when I was teaching.  It was how our school handled classroom management.  The theory is that some consequences are natural.  If  Lilah leaves her Polly Pockets on the floor and Jake (our dog) chews the legs off one, she may be reluctant to leave her toys on the floor again.  But some natural consequences do not come quickly enough to have impact, like not wearing a seat belt or not looking both ways before crossing the street.  Sometimes parents have to impart a consequence.  If it is closely tied to the action, I perhaps the child will actually learn something from it rather than just be annoyed, angry or hurt.  Is the consequence respectful?  Is the consequence relevant?  Is the consequence realistic?  These are things I try to keep in mind.  
For example if our bedtime routine takes so long that bedtime goes past 9:00pm, then the next night bedtime will begin earlier.  Or if I don’t get any help cleaning up the mess that does not belong to me, when we have an opportunity to have friends over, I will have to say no.  My goal is to teach the girls that being part of our family has rights as well as responsibilities.  At times it is not easy.  At times we screw up.  The constant is that love remains the same.  This time it was my mistake.  Tomorrow it may be Greg’s or Grace’s....we apologize, we accept the consequence, we try to do better the next time.  God willing we will be given a fresh day to try it again and try once again to do better.


  1. This is a great post. I have been thinking about it all morning. I strive to use logical consequences. Sometimes I have such a hard time coming up with a good one, though!

  2. Theresa - sometimes it is hard. Just this time I fell back on taking something away. Then when I was removed from the situation and all the feelings, I thought about it logically and came up with the best thing I could. Next time I get caught up in emotion, I am not going to impose a consequence until after when we are all calm and can discuss it as a family at the table.

  3. Thanks for bringing this up, Jessica! We do a lot of talking these days, talking about being responsible, being respectful, being mindful. The kids hate to hurt or disappoint me—their sorrow over it is often their own logical consequence! I often point out they should avoid hurting or disappointing each other too. :)

    I totally make mistakes (and sometimes it takes the kids pointing out my mistake for me to see it!). Then I acknowledge and take responsibility, so they can see it goes both ways. Actually, it goes every way, doesn't it? In this thing called family? :) Love the idea of you sitting together at the table, working together towards resolution, always with love.

  4. Excellent post. Definitely got me to thinking! Thanks for joining in the Hip Homeschool Hop!


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