What is a natural consequence? This is a fun topic for me because sometimes its enlightening as a parent or caregiver when your child thinks they can do something –you tell them otherwise—they don’t listen to you and then a consequence happens that you didn’t have to enforce.
A natural consequence are inevitable results of a child’s actions. In other word’s it is a consequence that naturally happens without the decision of another person, parent, or caregiver.
What are some examples?
A great example would be if it is cold outside and you tell your child to put their coat on. They decide they are going to refuse to wear their coat and instead of fighting the battle with your child—they go outside without their coat on and decide they are cold.
Another example for an older child would be if they left their bike outside and it get stolen… since they didn’t show responsibility, then they need to save up money to buy a new bike. This is something natural that happened from leaving their bike outside and not putting it away.
How should we handle natural consequences as a caregiver?
Since your child has already experienced a consequence for their action (a natural consequence) then us as parents should let that be. They do not need anymore guilt, shame, or blame put on them for making the decision they made. There should be no “I told you so” as that puts on the shame and our child just experienced their own natural consequence for the action they made.
Children, especially younger children, sometimes don’t know any better and need to experience these natural consequences to understand what needs to be done next time. We all experience natural consequences in our lives--- we don’t eat, we get hungry; we go in the rain, we will get wet and there are many others.
It is important to be understanding – “I bet that rain was cold” “I bet you are very hungry” then follow up with “I trust that you will make the right decision”. Most times, as a parent, it is difficult to watch your child make a decision that you know will lead to a natural consequence but it is important to develop a sense of capability in your child.
Natural consequences are necessary as your child grows and develops. They still happen to us, as adults. Keep in mind that natural consequences happen when a parent doesn’t step in and this doesn’t pertain to safety. Safety is important as a parent and you are there to teach and guide them so they don’t get hurt. You wouldn’t send your child walking in a busy street so they can experience the natural consequence of that action. You are there to make sure they stay safe and understand the appropriate way to cross the street with you holding their hand.
I am glad we got to talk about natural consequences and this is one of my favorite topics. If you are looking into discipline and consequences, feel free to check out my FREE guide on 3 ways to discipline.
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