Are you punishing your kid after he does something wrong but then the NEXT MINUTE he is doing the same thing again? Yeah, me too. Don’t worry, there is a better way to encourage the behavior that you want from your child. You just need to put some effort into learning how to use logical consequences for kids.
What is a logical consequence?
Well, it is very simply something that makes sense that happens due to the action that took place. Kind of like the whole idea of “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction” that I’m sure you are familiar with.
In short, the consequence should answer the question “what happens next?” immediately following that behavior.
Think of it this way. If your child throws his toy across the room, and you say “That’s it! No TV for a week!” but he walks across the room and picks the toy back up to throw it again, what has he learned?
Nothing. He’s learned nothing.
But if he throws his toy and you go pick it up and say “Because you are not treating this toy correctly, I am going to put it away and you can play with it again when you are ready to use it for what it is meant for.” Then you put it somewhere (preferably where they can see it but not get to it) and go back about your business. He will understand that he can’t play with it anymore because he threw it and that’ isn’t what it is for.
That is a logical consequence for kids that they will understand. It makes sense to them.
Why do kids need logical consequences?
It is in a child’s nature to understand the simplicity of straight-line thinking. Complex or unrelated punishment does not make sense for them. And they will not associate it with the behavior that you are attempting to discourage.
Even though you understand that she is going to bed early because she drew on the dog with a permanent marker, she does not see a connection between those two things. So tomorrow, if she gets the feeling that her artwork is unfinished she will probably do the same thing again.
But if you used a logical consequence, such as having her help give the dog a bath or taking away HER markers, she would understand that the consequence happened because of her action, not just because you are mean.
What do logical consequences for kids do for you?
This is my favorite part!
Now, I’m not making any promises here. I am not a wizard or anything. But by using simple and logical consequences for kids you are giving them the ability to recall the situation next time.
So they can take a moment to say “hmmm last time I threw a toy across the room, Mom took it away. I really miss that toy.” and make the choice NOT to repeat the action and the consequence.
You know what that means for you don’t you? You won’t have to repeat yourself 8000 times!!
Full disclosure, you are still going to need to give chances, reminders, and say “No” a million times. That is just part of parenting. But hopefully, after a few times of getting the same consequence for the same behavior, your child will realize that it isn’t very fun. And they will be able to make the decision to no longer exhibit that behavior.
How To Use Logical Consequences for Kids
I’m sure you are already understanding what you need to do here. But I am going to break it down into 3 simple steps for you so that you can get the most out of your logical consequences.
- Acknowledge the behavior of your child and try to understand WHY they did what they did.
- Connect with your child on an emotional level.
- Give the appropriate logical consequence and explain it in simple terms.
Then just continue on with your day. Don’t make it a big ongoing situation unless the behavior requires it.
I also add having my kids apologize whenever the behavior involved an action toward someone else. I think that it helps them to understand that the action has an effect on the other person. And it allows them to connect with the person on a positive note again.
A lot of kids benefit from a visual reminder of where they are and what they need to do. Check out this Behaviour Chart from A Simple and Contended Life. It is a great way to be more consistent with what many schools use while giving a reward for good behaviour and a consequence for bad.
I want to add one more thing to this information for you. I know that coming up with logical consequences can be hard sometimes. So I have put together a list of them for you. Even if the exact behavior is not on here, I think this will give you enough information to come up with something that does work.
The more you do it, the easier it will become!
Logical Consequences for Kids Examples
Logical Consequences for kids will fulfill all of the following criteria:
Break something – fix it (to the best of their ability)
Spill – clean it up or help clean it up
Pushes someone over – apologizes and helps them up
Talks with a friend when they shouldn’t – no longer get to sit together
Uses a toy improperly – no longer gets access to the toy
Speaks rudely or unkindly – ignore the request and suggest they try again kindly so you can hear them if necessary
Won’t share – take the toy away from both kids and encourage them to come to a solution to get the toy back ie. taking turns, doing it together, etc.
Won’t pick up toys – put away all the toy you pick up and require your child to help you with a task to earn the toys back
Fighting or throwing food at the table – remove them from the table until they can sit and eat nicely or put them elsewhere to eat away from everyone else
Runs away from you in public or into the street – they must hold your hand at all times for the rest of the trip.
Use these examples of logical consequences for kids to help you come up with your own. Like I said before, the more you do it the easier it will become.
Check out these related parenting articles that I think you’ll love!