Consequences That Actually Work! (Part 2 – Logical Consequences)

Consequences that Actually Work 1,2,3 (3)

Last week we kicked off our series on Consequences That Actually Work with a post on the importance of natural impacts. Today we look at what to do when natural impacts are not enough to help kids make things right.

Logical consequences

When children are not motivated by natural consequences, they may need more concrete consequences to help them learn. A logical consequence is simply an enforced consequence that is related as closely as possible to the misbehavior. This could include losing a related privilege, or requiring the child to fix what they broke.

Consequences That Actually Work! (Part 1 – Natural Consequences)

 Over the next several weeks we’ll be sharing three types of consequences that make sense, are easy to implement, and most importantly will really help your children learn the value of making a better decision next time!

Natural impacts (aka Natural consequences)

Many impacts, or consequences, for misbehaviors like disrespect or irresponsibility occur naturally, without the intervention of an adult. We call these “natural impacts.”

For example, if a child has a messy room, she may not be able to find her shoes in the morning before school. If a child hits his brother, he may feel “icky” inside. If a child tells a lie, people won’t be as likely to trust him. By helping my children to understand and experience these natural impacts, I help them learn about the true causes and effects that will follow them into life beyond the walls of our home.

Talking to Your Kids about Sex [Podcast]

A while ago we did a radio interview with our kids on the topic of sex. This is such an important topic, and one that often many parents are bashful or hesitant about addressing. Give it a listen!

6 Destructive Lies We Tell Ourselves — And How to Fight Them!

Sometimes we humans seem to act unpredictably or irrationally. But every action has a purpose, rooted in an underlying or “core” belief. Our core beliefs are what guide our behavior.

The way core beliefs are formed is complex. Our environment, the media, our peers, and mostly the homes we grew up in are the major contributors to the things we believe about ourselves and others. Most of us don’t spend much time thinking about this, but the beliefs are there regardless, and contribute greatly to much of our behavior. Core beliefs deeply affect our parenting. For example, if conflict was treated as a problem and swept under the rug in the home I grew up in, then I will likely feel very anxious about conflict and will work hard to avoid it or put a quick stop to it in my children. My core belief may be, “People should be nice and not have conflicts.”

What “tapes” do you play in your head?

The funny thing about core beliefs is that they become almost imperceptible repeating “tapes” that play over and over again in our minds. When we learn to say them out loud they sound almost ridiculous. But they hold power over us until we can replace them with new “tapes” or phrases that grow from truth.

When Kids Fight

Helping Kids Work Through Conflict

Siblings have conflict, and even if we don’t want our kids to fight, it happens.  Even a little pushing and shoving can be normal. The fighting itself is not necessarily the problem. It’s what kids learn about conflict and resolution over time that’s important. This blog addresses physical fighting between siblings, but the principles apply to verbal fights or peer relationships as well.

How Fights are Reinforced…or Resolved

If kids get a stern scolding, angry tones, harsh consequences, and nothing else from parents when they physically fight, then fighting is reinforced. This is because the combative mood is continued and modeled by the parents. In the kids’ minds, scolding is nothing more than a grown up form of intimidation and power. Children learn by the adult’s example that to win at fights is to win at life.  

However, if fighting children are constructively managed, they will learn to work through conflict better. They’ll learn that resolving conflict well is a win for both parties. So here are some quick ideas for constructive conflict intervention when kids fight.

“I Called the Cops on My Six-Year-Old Son!”

Sometimes our kids don’t take things seriously because they just don’t understand the weight of their own actions. When that happens, we as parents need to think outside the box to help them understand the consequences now so that they won’t have to reap harsher consequences later.

When I (Jim) heard that my six-year-old son had aggressively shoved another student into the wall at school, I decided we needed to have a little talk. He remained casual about it and didn’t think it was a big deal. I didn’t think his attitude was helpful, or that he was really taking seriously the problem of getting physically aggressive with other students. So I said, “Do you know that using your body to threaten or harm other people is against the law?”

“Yeah, right!” he flippantly replied.

“It looks like we’re going to need some help for you to understand what a big deal this is. I’m going to call the police and let them know what you’ve done.” I was looking for some repentance or remorse. Instead he replied, “Yeah, whatever!”

That was my cue.


Michael Phelps’ Secret… and What It Tells Us About Parenting

Michael Phelps is now the most decorated Olympian in history. Winning 19 Olympic medals has made him — according to many — “the greatest Olympian ever”.

So what is Phelps’ secret?

Well, it could be his high-altitude sleeping chamber. But we think it has a lot to do with Phelps’ coach, Bob Bowman, and a somewhat strange coaching philosophy.

The Worst Punishment You Can Give…

The worst punishment a parent can give is the impulsive, emotional and irrational consequence that the child eventually weasels out of because both parent and child know it’s unreasonable.

Dishing out a quick consequence may help you feel big and powerful at the moment, but it teaches your kids that your word can’t be trusted, therefore you can’t be trusted. A recent coaching client testified to this when she said,  “I never thought about the impact of my empty threats on the trust level in my relationship with my child.”

So if you want your kids to trust you, it will help to be more thoughtful about consequences.

Try this process:

Solving a Child’s Big Spiritual Problem

As parents who care for our children’s spiritual well-being, we try to teach them right and wrong and help them tackle whatever spiritual problems they encounter.

However, other than the fact that they’re born into sin, it may well be that a child’s biggest spiritual problem is that the grace they hear about in the gospel story is not what they experience in their closest relationships. The same parents who send them to Sunday School fight in the car on the way home from church and don’t resolve well. Or they yell at their kids impatiently. Or they complain openly about other people. Or they insist on being right. Or they discipline angrily and without grace. The list goes on.

We may think our kids won’t notice these behavioral contradictions, but increasingly they do notice and feel embittered (Col. 3:21) or exasperated (Eph. 6:4).

The Key to Avoiding Entitlement

Are your kids responsible or spoiled?

Are you unknowingly too child-centered?

Not too long ago we wrote about the problem of entitlement among children — about how many well-meaning parents, without thinking about it much, have become too child-centered. The article struck a nerve. Some felt offended or were defensive, while most strongly agreed but asked for more ideas about how to keep their kids from feeling entitled.