Natural and logical consequence are some of the most important and misunderstood concepts of parenting. Natural consequences are the natural and inevitable result of a behavioral choice, for example, your child wouldn't wear a coat so she was cold. Logical consequences are incentives or disincentives that are logically associated with the behavior that you are working to support or change. Natural and logical consequences are an effective way of redirecting negative behaviors because they create the conditions for your child to internalize the lesson learned.
An important piece of establishing a logical consequence is verbally processing both when the behavior is present and after your child has stopped and calmed down. For example, if your child is throwing blocks, you might make her leave the play area until "you can be safe with your body", including the logic in the request. After the negative behavior has abated, but within a reasonable amount of time, be sure to verbally process the interaction in a way that is appropriate for your child's developmental level. Discuss the behavior by identifying an emotion, "When you run with scissors I feel scared you will hurt yourself", and then make a logical connection to the consequence. "I am going to put the scissors up on the shelf until you are being calm with your body."
Here are a few examples of logical consequences:
"Because you didn't stop yelling when I asked you to, I want you to leave this play area until you can come back with an indoor voice."
"Your behavior is showing me that you are over tired, so it is time to take a nap."
Five Tips for Success:
1. Emotional decisions are not logical decisions. When you are angry, it is difficult to make logical decisions that will translate into teachable moments. Take a breath, take a walk, use the Big Shrug technique.
2. Often, and the most effective way to interrupt a negative behavior is a change of scenery. If your child is spitting, send them out of the area they are in to a kitchen or bath sink where it is appropriate to spit. Make them stay until they are done.
3. Frame a redirect in positive terms. "I don't want you to paint on the wall. You can paint either on some paper or with sidewalk chalk outdoors.
4. Offer carefully bounded choices. Think of several acceptable replacement behaviors and then offer them as a choice. Giving your child agency will make him or her feel empowered to have made a positive choice.
4. Logical consequences are related to what is happening now, not past transgressions.