Natural and Logical Consequences

You can watch the video version of this post on my Facebook page.

Today we’re going to chat about Natural and Logical Consequence!
I realized while reviewing everything from the last year- if you only attend MudRoom classes or if you only listen to the Podcast version, you’re missing a huge piece of the puzzle because all the Natural and Logical Consequences information I’ve put out was created before I started the MudRoom. So I figured I’d go back and run through the nitty-gritty of what Natural and Logical Consequences are and how the Logical Consequence Process works just to cover my bases- make sure there are no holes- but also as a refresher for those of you who are newer to Uncommon Sense Parenting and have no idea what I’m talking about. 
So let’s start off with why you’d use Natural and Logical Consequences over other methods like time-outs: 
  • They’re connected, make sense, and real.  The punishment has to fit the crime- they aren’t made up.
  • They’re self-enforcing. After a while, the child learns the true consequence of their actions and learns to generalize.
  • They teach restitution and accountability. When you do wrong, you must make up for it.
  • and They don’t rely on getting caught by an authority figure to be effective.
Because natural and logical consequences are connected and make sense they encourage intrinsic motivation. Our kids want to behave well because behaving badly is inconvenient for them. Behaving well becomes the path of least resistance. Now there are two kinds of consequences here: Natural and Logical.
They’re not the same thing. The first line of defense should always be natural consequences. The hardest part of natural consequences is not jumping in and rescuing them.  Natural Consequences happen without any intervention from us or anyone else. They just happen. So a really simple example would be if you refuse to wear your coat outside and it’s -20, you’re going to be bloody cold. Or if you throw your toy across the room, it’s going to break. Cause meet effect. And they don’t require much input from an authority figure. Narration or “Sportscasting” can be helpful for helping children who are missing the cause and effect link as long as it remains extremely neutral and doesn’t cross over into shaming or nagging.
If there’s a natural consequence it is almost universally the best way to go because it’s usually the most potent teacher. That said- sometimes natural consequences aren’t appropriate and to make it easy to know when that is I use what I call the 3D rule. You can’t use natural consequences when 
  • It’s dangerous- physical or mental harm will come to the child if you allow it to happen.
  • It’s delayed- the consequence will take a long time to occur thus becoming ineffective.
  • or It’s detached- the consequence will affect people around them, it isn’t isolated to the child.
And under those circumstances, you just blow right past the natural consequence and move on to the logical ones. So first natural and if that doesn’t hold water, then logical. 
Logical Consequences require the input of a caregiver. We have to walk them through the logical consequence steps- it won’t just happen. They’re directly related to the misbehaviour. The punishment has to fit the crime here. If you can’t draw a straight line between the two, it isn’t logical. They seek the input of the child when possible. This increases buy-in and often helps the child solve their own problem. They’re also ideally considered in advance by the caregiver- they aren’t angry or reactive. Again, we’re back to neutral as possible.
There are 4 steps to Logical Consequences- these steps are meant to build on each other. So when you start using logical consequences you are absolutely going to have to drag your child through this entire process over and over and over. Yes. But as they get used to the order of operations, they start to move up the steps and the end goal here is that eventually you just have to do Step 1 and declare what’s going on and that’s the end of it. So it’s short term pain, long term gain. This is the thought process we want them to have when faced with a behavioural choice. 
1.  Give an overview of where things stand by using a declarative statement. Captain Obvious. If the child complies- great! You’re done. If not, continue.
2.  Ask for the child’s input in the form of a problem-solving question. If the child comes up with an acceptable answer and follows it through- great! You’re done. If not, continue.
3.  Provide the appropriate answer and give controlled choices.  If the child chooses one of the offered options- great! You’re done. If not, continue.
4.  Choose for them and follow through. This step here is the Logical Consequence!
Example: Say your child refuses to bring their scooter inside at the end of the day. The natural consequence would be that their scooter either gets stolen or rusts out from being left outside. That doesn’t pass the 3D check- it has fallout for someone other than them (you and your wallet), and it’s delayed. So we move on to the LCP. 
So you’d declare: “Your scooter is outside.”
If they run out and grab the scooter and put it away- great! Done. If not, you move on. 
“Where should you put your scooter so that it stays safe?”
If they say “In the garage!” or “In the shed!” then you go “Great! Let’s put it there!” and they go put it in its place- awesome! You’re done. If they go “I don’t know” or ignore you or say “It’s fine there” or whatever- you move on. 
“You can put your scooter in the shed, or we can bring it into the porch.” Controlled choice- maybe the porch isn’t where you want the scooter to live, but it’s an acceptable spot for it to be. It’s safe and it won’t rust out. Now if they choose one of those options and go get it and put it there- great! Done. If not, you move on.
“Okay, let’s put the scooter in the shed.” And then you’d take their hand, walk them to the scooter, help them pick it up, walk it to the shed, have them put it away. THAT IS THE LOGICAL CONSEQUENCE. And once they’ve done it- it’s done. There’s no piling on shame, there’s lecturing- all that stuff is a power trip and it undoes all the good teaching you just did. Lock the shed and go about your evening. 
Remember: our children are our disciples, that’s where the word discipline comes from. We’re the master and they’re the apprentice, they’re looking to us to teach them- and teaching doesn’t involve shame. 
Does that make sense? It’s important to remember though that Natural and Logical Consequences are only one piece of the behavioural puzzle. They’re the remedial piece. Ideally our children would have the behaviour skills to behave and rarely need to be taught how to remediate their behaviour. And that’s where executive functioning skills come in. If you front-load them with the skills, you rarely have to do all this messy remedial stuff.

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About Allana

Hi, I’m Allana. I teach parents of toddlers and preschoolers why their children are misbehaving and what to do about it without yelling, shaming, or using time-outs. When not teaching parents about behaviour you can generally find me chasing around my two boys, reading cheesy romance novels, or hanging out with my own parents.

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