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Logical Consequence Ideas for Parents

by Flora Richards-Gustafson

Using logical consequences as a form of discipline helps a child understand the outcomes of her behavior and actions. When a child experiences logical consequence, she learns to respect order, build inner strength and develop self-discipline, according to Iowa State University Extension's online publication, “Parenting Young Teens, Using Consequences to Promote Responsibility.” While the use of logical consequences is often an effective parenting tool, avoid using them when they make a child feel uncomfortable or if the consequence is harmful or dangerous.

Applying Logical Consequences

Natural consequences are the inevitable results of a child’s decisions, like getting wet when running through a sprinkler. Alternatively, logical consequences are results that parents impose in response to a child’s actions. Unlike punishments, logical consequences are cause-related. For example, if a child gets food on the table, he must clean the spill. Logical consequences demonstrate your respect for a child without making him feel embarrassed or judged for his actions. They’re also reasonable. For example, if a child misses the bus in the morning because his backpack wasn’t ready, a reasonable and logical consequence is to have him prepare his backpack before going to bed. The worldwide children's development organization, Plan International has an online training manual, “Positive Disciplines,” which explains that a logical consequence can turn into punishment if it’s arbitrary, imposes power, implies moral judgment, dwells on the past and/or is disrespectful.

Child Involvement

Because logical consequences are about the choices a child makes, ask for her input about the logical consequences to use. According to a 2008 article by Rose Allen, University of Minnesota Extension family development educator and Linda A. Boelter, University of Wisconsin Extension family living agent, a child is more likely to make good decisions and follow directions if she’s aware of the consequences -- and children sometimes come up with better consequences than parents and that take pride in making positive choices. Involving your child in the decision-making process when it’s appropriate can give her a sense of ownership.

Set Up Clear Rules

When creating logical consequences for a child’s actions and behavior, it’s important to set clear, non-negotiable rules and expectations, like always being honest, wearing a helmet while riding a bike or doing chores. Keep in mind that as a child develops and matures, you might need to change some of these rules. When reviewing the rules with your child, discuss the logical consequences for breaking them. According to Plan International's online manual, the most effective rules and boundaries are those that you consistently enforce and don’t allow to become a personal struggle.

Logical Consequences for Positive Behavior

Parents often use consequences to discipline a child, but it’s important to also use logical consequences in response to positive behaviors because it lets your child know that he’s met your expectations. Examples of positive logical consequences that parents often use include giving an allowance for completing chores or celebrating good grades on a report card. Demonstrating increased trust, giving a child extra responsibilities, or letting your child practice more autonomy are logical consequences that reinforce positive behaviors and offer praise. For example, if your teen keeps his grades up, you might let him get an afterschool job.

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