Lately my kids have been experiencing A LOT of natural consequences. If you don't know what a natural consequence is, it is when you as a parent don't have to dish out the consequence, it just happens naturally. I know that sounds confusing so I will give you some examples:
1. Your kid refuses to wear a jacket in the winter, so they go outside and they get really cold
2. Your kid hits a kid and the kid they hit hits them back.
3. Your kid refuses to eat dinner and then they are hungry.
4. Your kid lies and they are no longer trusted.
Those are just some examples, the key here is that as a parent you are not dishing out the punishment but letting the natural flow of life discipline your child. When your kid doesn't eat dinner and then is hungry an hour later that is nature teaching your kid that it is important to eat dinner so you don't have to be hungry. Does that make sense?
I LOVE natural consequences because I remain the good guy and my kids learn that sometimes mom is right and they should listen to me. So here is an instance where my kids have experienced natural consequences.
The other day we had a very busy shopping day planned so we knew we would be eating out. One of the stops we had to make was to Costco and so my husband and I decided the best deal we could get for the family would be Costco's hot dogs and drinks. We of course asked our kids if they were ok that or if they wanted chicken nuggets from McDonald's. They chose Costco's hot dogs. So we are in line waiting to order and M says that she wants pizza. Now at Costco they have HUGE hot dogs and a 20 oz soda for 1.50, or a very large slice of pizza for 1.99 with no soda. Granted their soda's are only .60 the point is it costs more for a pizza and soda than for a hot dog and soda. T and I already decided that we would buy everyone the same thing and so I told M that she could have a slice of pizza, however, she would not get a soda with her pizza but I had bottled water and she could drink that, she then said that she wanted a hot dog. J then said that he wanted a slice if pizza so I told him the same thing I told M. Well T was right there and he said, No, everyone was getting a hot dog. I politely disagreed with T and told him that if J wanted a pizza he could have it I just wasn't going to get him a drink because I thought it was important for J to choose what he wanted for lunch, I wouldn't want someone dictating what I could have for lunch! T agreed and told J the same thing I already told him (don't you love when you are handling a situation and the spouse jumps in to help and not always in the best way). So J agreed and said he wanted a pizza and no soda. Great! So I go up and place our order thinking all is well with lunch. The cashier gave us our drink cups and I handed them over to T to fill up. J quickly realized that everyone but him was going to get a soda and quickly ran over and said, "Wait mom I changed my mind, I want a hot dog now." I told him, "I'm sorry J I already paid for our food and you chose pizza knowing that you would not get a soda. You may ask O if he will share his soda with you, but I am not ordering you a hot dog now that I have already bought you a slice of pizza, and maybe next time you will make a different choice." He was livid of course and refused to talk to me or anyone else and was very angry that I didn't budge and buy him a soda. But you know what, once he started eating his pizza and O shared his drink he was happy as can be. He then told me thanks for the pizza and that next time we go to Costco he is getting a hot dog! Lesson learned and all I had to do was keep my word! How awesome is that.
The key to natural consequences is to stick to your word, what do you think would have happened if I just bought him the hot dog - after all it was only 1.50 I have that in loose change in my car. I will tell you what would have happened, he would have learned that if he throws a tantrum he can get what he wants and he wouldn't respect me, he wouldn't learn how to make a right decision, and he wouldn't learn that our choices have consequences!
Natural consequences are an everyday factor life. As an adult we experience natural consequences all the time - we choose not to do the laundry we don't have clean clothes, we choose not to wash the dishes we don't have clean ones. We choose not to nurture our relationships with others and those relationships fizzle out. We choose to gossip and people stop telling us things. The same is true when it comes to our kids, if you can let your kids experience a natural consequence they will be better for it!