Logical Consequences: Tips For Healthy Discipline

logical consequencesDisciplining young children in a responsible and stimulating way is what every parent and teacher strives to do; presumably, this will have a significant impact on the children’s development. But like so many things, intelligent discipline is easier said than done; we wonder what is too easy, too hard, or too complicated.

This post’s focus is on logical consequences, a form or even theory of discipline that is centered around the idea that we should design consequences to fit the “crime.” If you want to discover other parenting methods, check out this five-star course on the outcomes of different parenting styles.

What Are Logical Consequences?

Anytime logical consequences are discussed, we must also reference natural consequences in order to make a distinction or provide a degree of relativity.

  • Natural Consequences

Natural consequences, then, are those that naturally result from a person’s actions. These are the consequences we face in the real world, when there isn’t someone to reprimand us or catch us in a safety net. As a parent, you would practice natural consequences by letting your children face the aftermath of their decisions on their own. Looking for more advice? Get it from this post on how to be a loving parent.

For example, instead of preventing a child from eating too much candy on Halloween, you would let them eat as much as they wanted to; the natural consequence would be feeling, and possibly getting, sick. Or if a child tantrums because he or she wants to play in the snow without proper clothing, you let them face the consequences of the cold (of course, you don’t let them get frostbite, but you do let them get cold).

  • Logical Consequences

A logical consequence is one that is conceived by the parent or teacher. They are designed so that they make sense to the child. This kind of discipline is akin to “an eye for an eye” or “the punishment fits the crime.”

The whole idea behind logical consequences is that the child is able to understand why he or she is being punished in such a way. For example, if a child is spending too much time on the computer and refuses to stop (in which case he could be a Bill Gates or Steve Wozniak), then you would not revoke the child’s reading time; that would not be logical. A logical consequence would be restricting computer time, i.e. “no computer for a week.” This way the child sees that the privileges that are abused are the ones that are taken away. This parenting class offers more help on how to manage stress in children and teens.

Can Logical Consequences Be Effective?

The answer to this is definitely yes, but every parent will develop their own style of parenting. You might find that logical consequences are more appropriate/effective for younger children, but that older children should be switched to natural consequences as soon as possible. Still, there are several things you can do to make logical consequences truly effective:

  • They’re Just Kids

It’s important to remember that kids are kids. You don’t want to discipline them excessively or for things they don’t understand (a three-year-old can’t be expected to act like a nine-year-old); not only will the lesson be forgotten long before the discipline is over, but the children will know injustice when they see it; they’re more intuitive than we give them credit for, especially when we’re angry with them (avoid that mistake with this article on effective parenting for happy, healthy children).

So the point is this: don’t enforce a punishment for a week or month or anything even remotely long. They simply won’t remember. A day, or two at the most, is more than enough for 99% of transgressions.

  • Be Respectful

Treat children like adults; this will encourage them to return your respect. When doling out the punishment, explain it clearly, calmly and rationally. Don’t scream. Don’t be angry. Handle the situation like a professional. Thought while you shouldn’t be angry, you should be firm; do not enter into a conversation or argument. Be quick and concise.

  • Focus On Growth

The idea behind discipline is to help children grow. Focus on this. Make sure the punishments are truly logical; if a child breaks your trust, explain why this happened. Use cause-and-effect. A truly logical consequence is also one that fits the crime. Drawing on the chalkboard should mean that the student has to wash the board, but not every board in school

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