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Do Consequences Work with Older Children?

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  • Do Consequences Work with Older Children?

    Some years ago, API Links editor Camille North's oldest son forgot his shoes on a routine trip to the grocery store. She and her son had struggled with the “shoe issue” for a while, and Camille hadn’t come up with a workable solution to help him remember to bring his shoes when they had errands to run. Frequently, they would have to double back to the house to retrieve a pair, and Camille would be impatient and irritable. This day, Camille decided to let her son take charge. They arrived at the store and, sure enough, his shoes were nowhere to be found. He ended up wearing his little sister’s flip-flops for the (mercifully short) shopping trip. He never again forgot his shoes.

    Do natural and logical consequences work with older children? The whole concept made perfect sense with young children. However, the idea becomes more nebulous as your children get older and become more logical, inquisitive, intuitive, and analytical. More...

    Read more at: API members: Use the login provided to you in the Fall/Winter 2009 issue of The Attached Family magazine or contact

  • #2
    I've found that "natural and logical consequences" are usually just code for punishments. I'm not a fan of of them. If my friend kept forgetting something, for instance, I wouldn't try to arrange for something awful to happen to teach her a lesson. I'd brainstorm to help her remember. I am the same way with my kids, and it works very well for us.


    • #3
      True natural consequences work with older kids, younger kids, and adults. That's a facet of observable behaviorism.
      What separates natural consequences from punishment is the parental role. Once a parent intervenes to construct a consequence with the goal of "teaching a lesson", then it enters the realm of punishmente.
      For the example with the son and flip-flops... that's a natural consequence. Son forgot his shoes. Son can't go into the store without any shoes. Son either wears something on hand, or he'd stay in the car, or they'd have to turn the car around and get shoes. The latter choice definitively being incompatible with balancing the needs of other family members (ie: getting grocery shopping accomplished.)