Thursday, February 24, 2011

Letting natural consequences teach a lesson

A natural consequence is something that may happen naturally if your child does or does not do something. If parents allow them to work, natural consequences can be the best teachers for our children. Meaning – parents must be willing to not interfere with the consequence their child has “earned” as a result of his or her behavior. Of course, if a natural consequence puts your child in an un-safe position or can result in a life-long consequence, you must intervene.

However, many children are “rescued” by parents instead of being given the opportunity to safely experience the consequences of their actions. And for this, many children simply do not learn to be responsible. For example, a household rule may be the put dirty clothes in the hamper every day. That’s a bare-minimum request, right?

A natural consequence to a child not putting their dirty clothes in the hamper means that clothes don’t get washed. Period! However, if a (loudly complaining) adult always goes into the child’s room to pick clothes up off the floor on laundry day, the child isn’t learning to be responsible for his or her clothing.

Parents have a choice; continue to ignore the child’s refusal to follow the rule and pick the clothes up - which is only teaching the child that someone will take up the slack for his or her irresponsibility - or leave the clothing where it is and let the child suffer the consequence of having no clean clothes.

After a couple of weeks of this, I’m betting most children will “get with the program” and follow the rule. I’d be willing to push for his or her independence a little more by TEACHING the child how to sort clothes and run the washer and dryer himself. End result is a responsible, independent child and a happier, quieter household.

Likewise, a natural consequence for forgetting to study for a test may is that the child may do poorly on the test. Parents, you are not doing your children any favors by letting them stay home “sick” on test day because they were irresponsible. In fact, you may be encouraging the irresponsibility!

The world is full of natural consequences. See how many lessons your child can learn this week by allowing natural consequences to do the job.

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