Ever wonder if you’re disciplining your kids the right way? What even is the ‘right way’? As parents, we all know discipline is necessary, but it’s definitely one of the hardest—and least fun jobs— of being a good parent.
One of my friend’s parents only used natural consequences to teach and train him. He doesn’t remember ever being spanked or grounded. Instead, what sticks in his mind was the terrifying day his mom wanted to take him out for ice cream to talk. He had made fun of his teacher online, all of his friends were now talking and laughing about his poor choice, and his teacher had seen the post. He was mortified that his friends were making fun of him—and to make matters worse, his teacher had even addressed it in front of the entire class. Now his mom wanted to talk to him about it too. He remembers not even being able to eat his ice cream.
The next time you wonder about the appropriate consequences for your child’s bad behavior, think about whether there are any natural consequences that are occurring or will occur as a result of your child’s choices. There may be times you still need to impose other consequences, especially if there aren’t any natural consequences occurring as a direct result of your child’s actions.
Here are 3 reasons why your kids need to experience natural consequences.
1. Natural consequences get quick results.
They teach your child much faster than any external form of consequence because your child can see the direct correlation between their behavior and the natural consequences that are occurring. Natural consequences teach cause and effect like not much else can. And kids don’t want to cause themselves the same pain again.
2. Natural consequences teach your kids to manage themselves.
This will serve them better once they are teenagers and college students when the external rules are gone. Through natural consequences, your kids will learn to self-manage and make better decisions the next time around, not because they’re going to get grounded but because they don’t want to suffer the same natural consequences. Kids often rebel against control. Teaching and training through natural consequences are a surefire way to teach your kids to be internally motivated to make good choices and to prevent rebellion because you’re not the one imposing the rules or the discipline.
Teaching and training through natural consequences are a surefire way to teach your kids to be internally motivated to make good choices.
3. Natural consequences strengthen family bonds.
When you allow natural consequences to teach your kids and you use them as a teaching tool, your kids can clearly see that you are on their team and trying to help them. You’re in this together instead of coming across as the bad guy. Sometimes when parents use other forms of discipline, like grounding or taking away privileges, kids blame their negative emotions on their parents because they are the ones enforcing the consequences. One natural consequence could be letting them know that you are disappointed in them. Let them feel your sadness or disappointment. It’s healthy for kids to learn what to do when they’ve disappointed or hurt someone.
Readers, we would love to hear about some of the natural consequences you or your kids have experienced and how it has impacted you/them?
Cassandra Soars has published various national magazine articles on a wide range of topics, including life in Mozambique, Africa, where she lived for five years. Her first book Love Like Fire: The Story of Heidi Baker is available on Amazon.