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Logical Consequences


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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More Articles from Ann Novick

When one is blind one learns to use Braille to read. When one cannot walk, a wheelchair gives mobility. Sign language allows a mute person to speak and ocular implants assist in hearing when one is deaf. These are all compensatory strategies that help a person function despite his disability. But compensatory strategies are not just for physical problems. Understanding our psychological weaknesses and setting up our lives to ensure that we are not tempted to repeat our past mistakes, is as necessary as any aid to the disabled.

Well spouses have often discovered that their friends and relatives, despite their closeness to the situation, often don’t realize the tremendous emotional impact living with chronic illness has on the family. With the best intentions, suggestions, ideas and criticism are offered, based on the non-experience of those with healthy families. Even when the good intentioned get a taste of the difficulties, it is sometimes not enough for them to then identify and understand what the family of the chronically ill must face on a constant basis.

Over the past two weeks I have shared letters from a therapist and a well spouse. Both of the letters gave personal insights into the process of losing hope, how we react when that happens and some ways of coping when test scores, diagnosis and just simple repetitive behavior indicate that change for the better is impossible.

Dear Ann,

I’ve read your last few articles on psycho-neurological testing (Oct.8-22) with interest. As a therapist who has counseled couples dealing with chronic illness, I’d like to give you another perspective.

Dear Ann,

Your articles on the Neuro-Psychological Testing were right on (October 8-22). My husband underwent testing twice and your articles explained it things exactly the way they were. Besides the test, we also tried therapy.

Very often when we can’t face our big hurts or big loses we focus on the little ones. We can discuss those. We can cry over the small loses, be angry at the smaller hurts even though it may look trite and sound ridiculous to others.

Over the last two weeks we have been discussing one way in which well spouses can determine whether behavior displayed by their ill partners is caused by their illness or is a way they have chosen to act. We have focused on Psycho-Neurological testing, what it can tell us, as well as its pros and cons.

Last week I discussed a question that haunts many well spouses: not knowing if the difficult and often inappropriate behavior frequently displayed by their partners are caused by the disease and therefore not-controllable, or if the behavior is a choice the spouse makes and can therefore be changed. This doubt can be the source of much frustration and many marital disagreements. One way of alleviating this doubt is by having a psycho- neurological work up done. But that path is not so simple.

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