The Power of Natural Consequences

Simply put, natural consequences are those results that follow an action. For example, if you eat too much at Thanksgiving your stomach hurts for a few hours.

Natural consequences can be a great tool for parents and care givers to use in disciplining their children. A parent or caregiver does not become the proverbial bad guy or girl and they do not require parents or care givers to develop or enforce creative punishments.

So here is an example of a natural consequence.

Your child does not want to eat what your family is having for dinner and is having a tantrum and demanding that he have different meal. What are your options? One, you could ground the child to his room for being defiant or obstinate. Two, you could make another meal for your child. Or three, you could tell him that his behavior is inappropriate and he can either continue his behavior in the living room without dinner or stop and have dinner. It should not take too many missed meals to encourage your son to eat what is presented to him and behave at the dinner table.

Natural consequences make some basic assumptions. One, parents cannot control their child’s actions, thoughts, or beliefs. You, as the parent, maybe able to physically make your child perform an activity but you cannot control your child’s reaction to the situation or thoughts and beliefs about the situation. Two, having a child engage his or her brain to solve a solution is better than having you do it for them.

Natural consequences are built on the principle of choice. Providing two, equally feasible, choices to your child will go a very long way to reducing conflict and making it simpler for you as the parent. I cannot overemphasize that both choices must be okay with you. If you provide one choice that you do not like your child will often choose that one.

Natural consequences can be a great tool in disciplining your children because natural consequences can produce beneficial results in your child’s behavior while also developing your child’s critical thinking and decision making skills.

Dennis Baughman, M.A. is a
Family Therapist and can be
reached at  889-9167