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Posted by Dr. Monica Wonnacott | January 12, 2016

Discipline: Natural Consequences

I am a big believer in allowing children to suffer the natural consequences of their actions or decisions as a method of discipline or teaching. In short, you are allowing your child to see what will happen if he or she misbehaves. You then can give a short explanation to teach and reinforce what happened as a consequence, but do not swoop in and fix it for your child. Here are a few examples:

  1. Your child throws a toy and it breaks. You respond by calmly and simply stating to your child, “You threw your toy and broke it, now you cannot play with it anymore.” Then do not replace the toy.
  2. Your child purposely keeps dropping a treat or toy on the ground. You respond by taking the object away and telling your child, ‘When you keep dropping your toy on the ground, you do not get to have it anymore.” If it was a treat do not give your child another one.
  3. Your child will not stop biting his or her shirt at the sleeves or neckline. If it is not too cold (never allow the consequence to pose a danger to your child), take away your child’s shirt. Simply explain, “Wearing a shirt is a privilege. If you can’t wear your shirt without biting it, you don’t get to wear one at all.”

Of course, it is not always practical or feasible to allow the natural consequences to happen (e.g., allowing a child to climb up on something high where he/she can fall and get hurt, touching a fire and getting burned, teasing a dog and getting bitten). For those cases, you can use other methods of discipline/teaching, like timeout (see articles on Timeout).