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November 24, 2015 / 12 Kislev, 5776
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Logical Consequences

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One of the many forms of discipline that is used in both homes and schools that is very effective is known as “logical consequences”. It simply means that instead of punishment or yelling, the parent simply allows the natural consequence of the behavior to happen. How many of us have run down to the school when our children have forgotten their lunch? We think it is “a good parent’s” job to rescue our children. We can’t tolerate that they should go hungry. But what have we taught them with our concern? They now know it is not their job to take their lunch. We have told them by our behavior, that that job belongs to the parents. The parents will just pick up what they couldn’t be bothered remembering.


But think for a minute – what would happen if you didn’t go down to school with the lunch? Our child would possibly be hungry at lunchtime, but he would not starve from missing one meal. It is the assumption of “logical consequences” that after two or three missed lunches, the child will take on his responsibility of remembering his lunch and do it consistently. At the same time, there is no reason for parents to yell or lecture about memory or responsibility. They can even sympathize with the child and tell him how sorry they are that he was hungry and that he forgot to take his lunch. Being hungry is the logical consequence of forgetting your lunch and the child will “get it” eventually.


I know of many parents who have trouble getting their kids to school on time. Fragile morning time becomes worse as we scream at our kids to get up, get dressed, eat breakfast and get to the car or we’ll be late for work. Once again, we are taking their responsibility away from them. I have known parents who, following “logical consequences” have taken their children to school in their pajamas when they weren’t getting dressed on time.


One such parent told me that she just stopped yelling and threatening her kids. Instead she simply stated that she was leaving to take them to school in 10 minutes and if they couldn’t dress themselves by then, they would simply go to school as they were. (This, of course, is only for young children who are capable of dressing themselves but just dawdle in the morning.) After wearing pajamas to school just once, the next weeks found the child up and dressed long before the time she needed to be ready. Her parent told me, any time she began to dawdle again, all Mama needed to do was remind her sweetly, that she’d be leaving soon and anyone not dressed was going to school as they were.


Another parent who follows “logical consequences” told me she had an awful time getting her older children into the car in time to drop them off at school and still get to work on time. Normally she’d get to work exhausted from the yelling and the morning rush, and was late more than once. As she lived about a mile from the school and her children were teens, she decided to try “logical consequences”. She told her children if they were not in the car when she left, she’d leave without them and they’d have to walk to school. Any which way, they had to go to school and she would call and make sure they were there.


The first day, as her 12-year-old was running after the car, yelling for her to stop, she did. But as the running after the car started to become a morning ritual, she decided to go back to basics. She reminded her children that they were to be in the car, not running after it. The next time she would leave anyone behind who wasn’t in the car. The next two days, her son ran after the car yelling for her to stop. This time she kept going. She told me it took only two days for him to see she meant what she said. Now he and her other children are waiting in the car before she leaves. Or, at worse, they would be rushing out the door with her to get to the car first. All this was accomplished without having to yell, remind, threaten, etc.


But what do “logical consequences” have to do with well spouses? I’ll explain next week.

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