Logical Consequences as an Effective Discipline Strategy

Negative consequences that teach life lessons.

Discipline your child with logical consequences.
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Deciding on a consequence for your child's misbehavior can be difficult sometimes. Should you take away his electronics or tell him he can't go to his friend's house? Fortunately, logical consequences take away some of the guess work.

The best part about logical consequences are that they'll teach your child important life lessons. Each time your child breaks a rule, a logical consequence will deter him from making the same mistake next time.

No matter which type of parenting style or discipline technique you use, logical consequences can serve as one of your best discipline tactics. And the best news is, they work well for children of all ages and they're effective for a variety of rule violations.

What are Logical Consequences?

Although logical consequences are a consequence and not a punishment, they are described as a technique that allows “the punishment to the crime.” Unlike natural consequences, logical consequences must be created and enforced by you.

Logical consequences are directly related to the misbehavior. If your child refuses to shut off his video game, don't take away his bicycle. Instead, a logical consequence means taking away his video game privileges.

How to Make Logical Consequences Effective

Logical consequences work best when kids are aware of the consequences ahead of time. When possible, provide a warning such as, “If you don’t put your bike away right now, you won’t be able to ride it tomorrow.”

This helps prevent a power struggle where the child claims it’s unfair because he didn’t know the rules. By warning the child ahead of time, he has the option to make a choice about his behavior.

Logical consequences usually involve taking away a privilege for a certain period of time. But, the time should be a relatively short duration.

Taking away your child’s bicycle for a month isn’t likely to be effective. In fact, he’s likely to forget why he even lost his bicycle privileges in the first place. Taking away a privilege for 24 hours is usually a long enough time period.

Consequences are most effective when they are fairly immediate. If a child misbehaves today and he doesn’t receive a consequence until tomorrow, he’s not likely to associate the consequence with the misbehavior.

Be firm when giving logical consequences, but stay calm. If you yell or make threats, your child will view you as being punitive. Consequently, your child may focus more on his angry behavior toward you, rather than the steps he can take to change his behavior going forward.

Examples of Logical Consequences

  • An 8-year-old child rides his bike out of the driveway so he loses his bicycle privileges for 24 hours.
  • A 10-year-old is throwing a ball in the house and he breaks a lamp. He has to do chores to earn enough money to pay for a new lamp.
  • A 4-year-old refuses to pick up her dolls. She loses her privileges to play with the dolls for the rest of the day.
  • A 6-year-old is coloring a picture on the coffee table. She keeps coloring on the table instead of her paper. She loses the crayons for the rest of the day.
  • A 9-year-old misses the bus on purpose. His mother drives him to school but he has to do chores to earn gas money to pay for the ride to school and also has to stay after school to make up for the time he missed in the morning.
  • A 7-year-old refuses to eat his dinner. As a result, he’s not allowed to have desert or a snack before bed.

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