When I became a parent I used the ‘traditional’ methods of parenting of imposed consequences. Some of the imposed consequences I used were, time out, shouting, bribes, and anything else I could think of at the time.
The problem is that whilst these approaches may appear to work in the moment, they don’t stop the behaviours from reoccurring. The child learns ‘I do something wrong, then I get told off and sent to the naughty step, then I apologise and it’s all sorted’. This approach isn’t helping the child in the long term and the behaviour continues. It can feel like groundhog day as you are constantly dealing with the same issues.
With natural consequences we are helping the child to understand the impact of their actions and this is where we start to see changes in behaviour.
I know from many conversations that natural consequences can seem hard to get your head around at times. Sometimes it can feel like there isn’t a natural consequence, or at least not one that is ‘good’ enough.
When I started using this approach I found it hard. I was used to issuing ‘punishments’, usually in the heat of the moment and sometimes totally ridiculous. One example was grounding my son for his entire life! I have to say, that one made both of us laugh out loud.
It took time to change this habit and get used to it. It did seem strange not imposing a consequence and I certainly got a few strange looks from people who thought I was letting my son get away with things. Over time that’s changed as they can see how it’s worked. (I also care less about people giving me strange looks!).
Here are some examples of natural consequences:
- A child goes out in the cold without a coat on they get cold
- If they are unkind to someone that person may not want to play with them
- If they break a toy by throwing it across the room they can’t play with it anymore
I know that is can be hard sometimes to see the natural consequence. Personally, I’ve learnt that usually occurs when I think the consequence should be more severe. That is totally my issue, not a reason to impose a consequence.
It’s not always easy to accept, particularly if you were brought up with imposed consequences as many of us were. It does work, but like anything it’s not a magic wand and will take time. Persist with it and you’ll start to see the changes.
We can also use logical consequences and here are some examples:
- If they are playing dangerously on the trampoline they may have to stop playing
- When they are young and keep running into the road, they may have to wear reins
- Can’t stay safe when using social media – they have to have restricted access, or have you as the parents with access to it.
Natural and logical consequences are fantastic and help child to link the behaviour with the impact it has, which is crucial if they are going to learn and develop. Just doing them though, in isolation or combined with other traditional parenting methods, is not always enough.
You need to mix them in with the deferred conversation, helping them to understand their emotions and showing them they are loveable. These are all aspects of NVR and when used together are a powerful way to support your child and see changes in behaviours that last.
Next week on the blog I’m going to be talking about how we can help our children understand their emotions and the power of the deferred conversation.
In the meantime if you’d like help and support come and join us in the Connective Parenting Hub. There’s an online library of resources, you get access to me whenever you need it, weekly teaches, sessions with other experts and lots more. You can find out more here –