One of the ways to take the burden of child discipline off your shoulders is to remember the resource of “natural consequences.” A dad recorded a video of his son jogging to school that demonstrates natural consequences. The video went viral last week. The son was jogging to school because he was kicked off the bus for bullying other children. Jogging to school is a natural consequence.
A natural consequences occurs when a child disobeys instructions and parents step back and let the results of that disobedience just happen.
Dr. Bruce Narramore, in his classic book Help! I’m a Parent, relates how his wife kept trying to discipline their fifteen-month-old daughter when she wanted to eat her bath soap. After checking with their pediatrician, who assured them there would be no long-lasting effects, they allowed her to eat the soap. After a bad tummy ache, the daughter never again ate the soap.
The idea is that the parent steps out of the discipline equation and lets the “next step” happen when a student rebels from carefully-explained rules.
Natural consequences do five things:
If you decide to let natural consequences do their job, the problem soon reveals that it’s as much about you as a parent is as it is your child. For instance, letting a child go outside without a jacket makes you afraid the child might get sick. So you argue and wrangle each time it’s cold outside. Instead, a child might need to get cold enough to come in and get a jacket. And might catch a cold.
You might have to let a child touch the hot stove that you keep warning her about. But except in situations with permanent, life-altering effects, you might just have to let them learn the hard way—from the bad situations they create, not from your nagging or reminders.
Allowing a son to jog to school because he was kicked off the bus is a natural consequence. Now, that’s learning from your experience!