Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Natural Consequences

Here's what...


Natural Consequences...

Do we not all hate to discipline our children? As for me, I would so much rather be their friend, but there comes a time when it is a necessary (I won't way evil, because it's not) part of life.

In my 19 years as a mom, I have learned something. Depending on the way you punish your children, they can either hate you for it and focus their negative energy on you and "how could you be so mean?" or they can focus their energy on themselves and how they messed up and how they need to improve. I have found that by using natural consequences as often as we can, we are able to teach our children without unduly harming the relationship we have with each other. Of course there are times that we have to implement grounding or extra chores, but as often as possible, we like to let nature takes it's course. An example of this would be if my son didn't do his chores before his ride came to pick him up for school in the morning, that he would have to miss his ride, finish his chores, walk to school (it's only a mile away) and endure an unexcused tardy. These types of consequences can be implemented using a calm voice and the children are left to only be dissappointed with themselves for failing to fulfill their responsibilities.

I would like to share a recent example of natural consequences that unfolded PERFECTLY.

This girl...


...left her school glue out on the sofa table right next to my rocking chair in the living room. I saw it there, and felt my pulse quicken slightly in anger over the fact that she had so carelessly left it right after I had cleaned up. But then I slowed down and thought what I could do. Why was I so upset that it had been left it out? I realized the main reason it was bothering me was because if I didn't do something about it, this person (middle)...


...would get into it. My options where that I would have to put it away myself or go and find her and ask her to put it away. But what if, just what if, I left it out and let the natural consequences play out? Worst case scenario, the toddler opens it and pours it all over the place and perhaps even tastes it. It says it's non-toxic right on the bottle, so no harm there. (Just kidding. I would not really let my toddler consume glue just to teach the teenage girl a lesson. Not too much glue, anyway.)

So I sat...and I waited...and who should come along but the toddler. And what should he do but open up the bottle of glue and pour it all over the table. I watched with detached interest to see what would happen next. Nothing. The toddler got bored, asked me to wash his hands, and left the glue tipped over on it's side where he had found it. And so it hardened...on the sofa table, which is metal and rusted and rustic, by the way, so no harm done really.

Enter...the 12-year-old boy. He walked by, saw the mess and said out loud, "Kyla left her glue out and Johnny got it all over the table! KYLA! JOHNNY GOT YOUR GLUE ALL OVER THE TABLE! COME AND CLEAN IT UP!"

Enter...Kyla...With an extremely distraught look on her face. She looked at the mess, then looked at her mother, who had decided to turn her back on the whole thing and continue with the dinner preparation. She touched the mess, and stared at it some more, then looked at Johnny, then at the mess again. It was beautiful.

"Um, Mom?" she said. "Do you know how to get glue off tables?"

"No I don't," I said. "Why? Do you need to get glue off a table?"

She told me what had happened and sheepishly admitted that she didn't know what to do. I suggested she look it up on the internet. You can find anything on the internet, you know. She did find out how to remove dried-on school glue off a surface, spend a long time cleaning her mess and I never had to get involved in doling out a punishment. It was awesome!

Did she learn to never leave her things out again? Of course not, but I figure with about 300 more teaching moments like that, she will have it down pat!

How do you discipline your kids? I would really like to know. Leave me a comment and tell me what you do!

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17 comments:

Kelli said...

I seem to remember you sitting on someone one time... Natural consequence? I would say yes, it kept him from getting up from his nap... Seriously you have to stop bringing up the onion and posting it on my blog. It happened a LONG time ago and you never even saw it! I need to write a note to myself to be careful what I tell you!!! :)~

Untypically Jia said...

I don't have kids but I really like how you put things, especially about the chores and missing the ride to school. I was babied so much as a child and now that I'm older and married and still struggle sometimes with getting my way, housework, etc, I often tell those who raised me, "You should have just let me deal with the consequences sometimes instead of bailing me out all the time." LOL!

Christine G said...

Oh my goodness! That is too perfect. Good job, mama!

Melinda said...

It is hard to sit by and let our kids suffer the natural consequences from their decisions. But it is a must! I love the example with Kyla. I have two children who would learn from this but one who couldn't care less, he is the tougher one to discipline. Good luck Jen!

Ps. I love Johnny in his pajamas and striped beanie....too cute!

Anonymous said...

So what do you do when you hubby misbehaves - what are the natural consequences there?????
Your Hubby.

Tara said...

that is perfect....i get to caught up in the moment most of the time and don't take the time to sit back and think about how it could be a brilliant teaching moment. Hum...i'm going to have to start thinking a little more calm and see how things play out...great advice!! i'm sure i'll get to put it to work....by this afternoon. :O)

raych said...

I have no babies of my own, but I've worked in daycare for years where all we have are natural consequences. We can't hit the kids (obviously), but we also can't take away any of their snacks or give them extra chores. But natural consequences are SO helpful in terms of, say, one kid being mean to another, and then getting upset when that kid won't share with him later. We like to frame things in terms of 'choices,' so I'm always saying things like, 'You chose to call Bill names earlier, and now his feelings are hurt and he doesn't want to share his toys with you.' These kids are only 5 max, but this kind of explanation helps them understand the relationships between actions and reactions. Sometimes, of course, you have to coax a natural consequence along ;)

glorv1 said...

I like your mode of operation . Great job. Take care

Laurice. said...

What great advice!

REAL ME said...

What a very thought provoking post. I loved it!

Amanda B. said...

I learn a lot from you... :)

RhondaLue said...

fantastic! Ok I'm waiting to hear your response to hubby. lol!!

Shannon @ Silver Trappings said...

Wow. I just found your blog today. What a PERFECT example. I have to admit that I jump in to fix things so that my kids don't have a natural consequence way too often. I am going to try very hard to apply this on a DAILY basis in our lives!!!! Thanks for the wonderful advice! I have saved you in my bloglines and will be back regularly.

Shannon

High-Heels And A Sippy-Cup said...

Well done, lady! I love that example of natural consequences and you know how much I love natural consequences. *wink*

Kritta22 said...

Wow! That's an awesome idea! I will have to try this! Nice work!
I'm visiting from Mormon Mom Who Blog. Your page is great!!

Ginny said...

You are brave to do that! It had to have been nice to not have to chase after your daughter & yell, etc. Love this!

I've done this in the past as well with my 2 girls. Just never thought of it this way :)

Your daughter looks a lot like you in the picture you posted.

Tereza said...

Well that was cool:) I do it similar just cause I'd be too busy to clean it up myself:):) Other times I just quickly put it away. Either way....things get dumped, things get cleaned and alls well:):):)