Updated: Jul 18
One of the most effective, loving ways to teach your children is to allow them to experience the natural and logical consequences of their behavior. They will learn that their actions bring a response or result, either positive or negative. When they mess up, they have to learn problem-solving skills to try to fix the problem they created. Parents are placed into the role of being a consultant instead of giving out punitive responses when children act up.
I learned about Love and Logic when my children were babies, and I'm SO glad I did! My daughter was always pretty easygoing and has never really acted out. My son, on the other hand, was a handful as a little one! He is highly choleric and wants to be in charge. Logical consequences work amazingly well with kids who are often labeled as "strong-willed," "defiant," or "problem children." You give your child the power to make choices within reason and within your parameters so they can have a sense of control. When they mess up, they have to live with the consequences. It's absolutely beautiful!
A major parenting win happened for us when my son was about seven years old. He went to work with his dad and earned some money. He wanted me to take him to the fireworks stand and he spent all of his money on fireworks. He had a fun-filled evening of blowing it all up. The next morning, he sat slumped with his chin resting on his hands. I asked what was wrong. He replied, "All my money just went up in smoke." So. True. He is now 14 and is intentional about how he spends his money. Just in the past few weeks, he has made almost $1000 by buying cheap dirt bikes, fixing them up, then reselling them. He has certainly learned money management skills.
It requires a mental shift as a parent to think in terms of logical consequences. Most of us were raised with spankings, time-outs, or emotional withdrawal when we made bad choices. Love and Logic teaches parents to show empathetic responses, to be supportive and available, but to allow the situation to teach the child the lesson.
Related Post: Let Them Be: Giving Children Freedom to Grow and Learn
Here's How it Works
There are key elements to making logical consequences work. If you miss one of the steps you can take away from the effectiveness of it. It is important to remain empathetic and supportive, available, but also stand your ground.
When a situation happens your first response should be a kind, empathetic response. You might say "Uh oh!," "That's a bummer," "This is so sad," or something along that line. These statements can be your replacement for a curse word you may have been thinking. It is best to say it in a gentle, sing-song type voice rather than yelling. Avoid blaming, yelling, or freaking out in any way. Your child needs to be triggered by the situation, not by you. The parents need to be calm and approachable.
Place the Burden on the Child's Shoulders
If your child made a mess, you want to ask "How are you going to clean that up?" You can make comments that let your child know you believe in them and know they have what it takes to overcome the situation. If your child seems overwhelmed, you can ask if they want ideas on how to problem-solve. Be sure to allow them to try to handle it on their own before you get involved. DON'T DO IT FOR THEM! If the child is young or unable to do it alone, work together, but do not work harder than the child.
Lectures are not needed. There is no reason to be punitive or rub it in when kids mess up. Allow the situation to do its job teaching a lesson then move on and don't bring it up again.
There are many aspects to logical consequences and retraining your way of thinking to understand the concepts. This really won't scratch the surface, but these are some important parts of making logical consequences work.
Offer Choices. Give two options for your child to choose from, both of which you are okay with. You may offer peas or carrots as vegetable options. Do you want to go to bed now or in five minutes? Do you want to wear this or that?
Learning Opportunities. Instead of being upset when your child makes a mistake, consider it a learning opportunity. Instead of reacting quickly give time to think through your options and hand it back over to your child.
Be a Voice of Reason. When you offer suggestions for how to solve problems and they work, you will be considered wise to your child. They will learn to come to you when they face challenges at school or with friends. You get to position yourself in a place where your child seeks your wisdom for their problems instead of fearing a harsh response.
Set Your Limits. Just because your children want something doesn't mean you have to get it for them. There may be times that you want to buy them things or give them a gift, but they can learn so much from having to figure out how to get what they want. When your child wants something that is not a basic need, give them a chance to learn and ask what their plan is.
Provide Opportunities for Success. The goal of logical consequences is to give your kids a sense of control. If they want a $100 toy, you might say, "Sure you can have it. How will you pay for it?" When they offer to mow the lawn, wash the dishes, etc., they need to have opportunities to achieve their goals. When they realize it may take them 10 weeks to earn the money they might decide it isn't a smart purchase. Goal achieved!
In conclusion, logical consequences allow parents to be loving and gentle while teaching their kids how to deal with real-life situations in a controlled environment. It is better for your children to learn money management, problem-solving, and the results of impulsive behavior under your watchful eye than for them to discover it when the consequences are much higher when they are grown.
For more information and additional resources about using Love and Logic, check out www.loveandlogic.com.
Here is a video to better understand how natural and logical consequences work:
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