This morning when I woke up I looked at the clock and saw that it was 8:00 and I thought wow my kids must be playing so nicely since they let me sleep in so long - usually I am being woken up at 6:30 with demands of food, tv, diaper changes, cuddles, etc. So I come out of my room and the first thing you see when you turn the corner from my room is our playroom which is still spotless so I am really impressed with how well behaved my kids have been this morning, then I turned the corner again and this is what I see . . .
At this moment I just stood there and thought "Oh wow! Huh, not what I expected" What you don't know by seeing this is that there was a tie on the doors of the game cabinet to keep this mischievous 2 yr old out of the game cabinet. What I didn't know was that he could bypass that tie and still manage to get into the games and puzzles, and when I say get into I actually mean dump the games everywhere! This mess is actually a lot bigger than the picture shows because there were literally games and puzzles strewn across my entire living room.
At this point I have a couple options as a parent in regards to disciplining O for the huge mess he made. 1. I can spank and yell at him and really show him who is boss (while also teaching him that when people do things we don't like it is o.k. for us to hit and yell at them and encourage him to feel unloved) 2. I can have the attitude of saying well he is 2 and that's what 2 yr olds do so I will just send him off to play and clean it up myself (which teaches him to not take responsibilities for his actions and that he can make as big of a mess as he wants and mommy will just clean up after himself) or 3. I can come up with a consequence that fits the crime and will teach him responsibility, still feel loved and will last him a lifetime. I obviously chose option 3, which is to have O help clean up the mess he made and not be allowed to play until the entire mess is cleaned up.
If you were ever to spend a day with me at my house you would see the use of a lot of what "experts" call natural and logical consequences being used. I do not believe in time-outs as mentioned in a previous post and I do not believe in the use of physical discipline (spanking, slapping, kicking, etc. etc.) Sure those methods work to instill fear in children and teach them to obey or else . . . but why not teach them to make good choices because that is what is the right thing to do and also teach them that when they make bad choices there are consequences that make sense and that they can understand. There are a ton of great parenting books out there that explains this concept and one of them is called "Parenting with Love & Logic" by Foster Cline and Jim Fay and they have an amazing website full of helpful advice that you can check out here.
The basics of logical and natural consequences are simple to understand but not always easy to come up with. My sister in law told me once that she has a lot of friends who call themselves love and logic dropouts and I think the main reason for that is that this is a hard way to be a parent - not hard in the sense that it is impossible, but in a sense that you as a parent HAVE to THINK beyond the reach of your arm (or wooden spoon for my wooden spoon motivators out there) and be involved as a parent. How hard is it really to send a kid to time out? Not very, sure it might take up a few minutes of your time to make sure the child stays there and you have a nice little chit chat afterwards about why they are in time out and then it is done. How hard is it to spank a kid, actually really easy just reach out your arm and swat them until all of your anger is relinquished and they are properly demoralized and you can get right back to whatever it was you were doing before the child interrupted you with their misbehaviors. But coming up with consequences that fit the crime are a lot harder but also a lot more effective in teaching kids how to properly behave. So what do I mean when I say logical and natural consequences?
According to Active Parenting by Michael H. Popkin (by the way I LOVE this book) a good definition of logical consequences is: "discipline that is logically connected to a misbehavior and applied by an authority to influence a child to behave within the limits of the situation." Now you might be saying, huh? to that definition but basically when you think of logical consequences think of the Law of Moses - you stole something so they cut off your hand, you lied they cut out your tongue - only not as severe as cutting off our child's limbs!
Here are some examples of logical consequences:
Children are arguing over what to watch on tv so no one gets to watch TV
Child makes huge mess in living room, child cleans up huge mess in living room
Child refuses to clean up toys, child's toys get taken away until they can show that they can clean up their toys
Child hits brother, child has to help brother feel better
Child refuses to eat what is made for dinner, child doesn't get to eat dessert and may possibly go to bed hungry.
The main idea is to make sure it fits what they did wrong, if they aren't eating dinner what sense does it make that their punishment is to go to the room for the rest of the night? It makes more sense to say o.k. you don't get to eat anything else later. I don't believe in making a child sit at the dinner table all night either when I am done eating my dinner my kids may also get down from the table and the food gets put away and if they ask for a snack later all I have to say is "did you eat your dinner?" and if the answer is yes then they can have a snack, if the answer is no then they can't have a snack but I can reheat their dinner for them at my earliest convenience. Does this make sense to you? Do you have any questions? I know I also mentioned Natural consequences but this post is already long so I am going to save that for another post. But please leave your thoughts on logical consequences, and it would be great if you put examples of what logical consequences you use in your house if you use them!