By Marcia Hall
Parents would love to be able to say that redirection and positive reinforcement are always effective in correcting a child’s misbehavior. Unfortunately, there are times when a child will only learn correct and healthy behaviors if there is a negative result for her actions. There are many reasons to pick logical consequences over random and harsh penalties. If parents want their child to learn from her mistake, her consequence must have a link to the misbehavior.
Here are 10 examples of inappropriate behaviors a child might have and possible “logical” consequences for that behavior.
- Your child makes a mess, whether intentionally or on purpose. A logical consequence could be for her to miss out on playtime so that she can clean up the mess she made. Depending on the age of your child, she may need a little help, however don’t underestimate your child’s abilities. If she made the mess she is likely able to clean at least some of it up. By making this part of life, your child will begin to understand that when she creates a mess, she needs to takes responsibility and clean it up
- Your child throws a toy in the house after being clearly told it was against the rules. The logical consequence is that she loses the privilege of playing with that toy for a reasonable amount of time. This could be five minutes for a young child and could be a few days for an older child.
- Your child intentionally hurts or knocks another child down. A logical consequence of that action is for her to have stay in the other child’s presence until she can somehow repair the relationship. Your young child might need a little help finding the words, but avoid telling your child exactly what to do. Focus on your child repairing the relationship instead of simply saying “sorry.”
- Your child speaks disrespectfully to you. The logical consequence is for you to ignore the comment or request she is making until she can find a respectful way to say it. A quick, “I will respond to your request when you speak kindly to me” might need to be said one time, but should not be repeated over and over again. This technique will work for even very young children and can be modified for older children as well. “It is hard for me to hear your need when you do not speak with kind words” is what you could say to your older child.
- Your children are unwilling to share a toy. You remove the toy from both children and encourage them to work together to find a way to get that toy back. This helps the children learn to work for a common goal.
- Your child refuses to put his toys away or continually forgets to do so. If you are the one picking up her toys after she has been given a reasonable amount of time to do so, put all the toys left out in a box. Your child will then need to complete a task for you in order to get that toy back since you completed the task of picking up her toys.
- Your child uses something of yours and loses or breaks it. You work with her to come up with a plan on how she is going to replace that object or fix it. If the object was taken without your permission, this task should be very challenging for your child to do. She needs to have to work hard to fix her mistake so she will understand the value and gravity of what she has done.
- Your children are fighting at the breakfast table. You inform them that they need to get along or they will not be welcome at the table. This might mean that they miss eating their breakfast altogether and are hungry until lunch. Another logical option is for you to have one child eat in a completely separate location from the rest of the family, showing her that in order to be in community with the family, she has to learn to cooperate with her siblings.
Parents use logical consequence more often than they usually realize. Logical consequences are somehow linked to the child’s action and naturally help the child see the larger picture. They are not motivated by a desire to punish the child, but are used as a way to guide her as she grows and develops.