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© 2019 by Joyce Fetteroll

So you use natural consequences when they do wrong?

Are you really saying that you do not teach your children that actions have consequences?

 

Life teaches kids that actions have consequences.

 

There's a difference between imposed and natural consequences.

 

Squishing the bread in the store and having the manager descend on us is a natural consequence. We have no control over his actions. His action is a natural response to our actions.

 

Taking away car privileges is imposed. That particular consequence doesn't naturally arise from your daughter's actions. You could choose (or not choose!) to impose that or any consequence. She is well aware that the power to impose the consequences (or not) is in your control.

 

A natural consequence of not doing chores is whatever naturally results from not doing them: dirty toilets, garbage spilling onto the floor, irritated mom. Most kids don't really care about the natural consequences (except mom getting irritated if mom treats their feelings with as much respect as she would like them to treat her feelings) so many parents resort to imposed consequences. Taking away or allowing car privileges is no different than grades. They are both coercion to force others to do what we want them to do or behave as if they cared about the things we want them to care about.

 

Maybe I don't "get" the whole natural consequence thing. I get the main idea, but it seems that when he does something dangerous like running off into a crowd, I just chicken out and can't let go.

 

Kids want to know they can depend on us to keep them safe while they explore the world. They trust we'll grab them before they step in front of a car. If they want to explore something in a crowded place, they don't want to be stopped. They want someone there "fighting off the tigers" so they can explore.

 

I hadn't thought about it like this before, but parents often use the term "natural consequences" in the same way they'd use parentally imposed consequences. Both uses are coming from the mindset of wanting the child to do what the parent thinks the child should do. So apparently the only two choices are to impose consequences when the child does something he shouldn't, or to let the child suffer the natural consequences and learn the lesson the parent wants him to.

 

That isn't the point people are trying to make. What people are discussing is helping kids explore the world safely. So the main goal is exploring the world. That's the focus. And then our job, the one the kids are trusting us to do, is to keep them safe while doing it.

 

So really natural consequences don't come into the picture. Natural consequences aren't a tool for us to use to control or mold kids. Natural consequences are just a part of reality like gravity.

 

Joyfully Rejoycing