Natural and Logical Consequences for Behavior

The goal behind natural and logical consequences for your children’s behavior is so they learn to be responsible for their behavior. The purpose of imposing these consequences is to motivate children to make responsible decisions, not to force their submission.

In contrast, rewards and/or punishments deny children the opportunity to make their own decisions and be responsible for their own behavior.

NATURAL CONSEQUENCES: Consequences that permit children to learn from the natural order of the physical world. For example, not eating is followed by hunger.
LOGICAL CONSEQUENCES: Consequences that permit children to learn from the reality of the social world. For example, children who do not get up on time may be late to school and required to make up work or stay after school.

Differences between punishment and logical consequences:

1. Punishment expresses the power of authority. Logical consequences express the reality of how society works.
2. Punishment is rarely related to the misbehavior. Logical consequences are logically related to the misbehavior.
3. Punishment tells your child he or she is bad. Logical consequences imply no element of moral judgment.
4. Punishment focuses on what is past. Logical consequences are concerned with present and future behavior.
5. Punishment is associated with a threat, either open or concealed. Logical consequences are based on goodwill, not retaliation.
6. Punishment demands obedience. Logical consequences permit choice.

Steps in applying Logical Consequences:

1. Provide choices and accept your child’s decision. Use a friendly tone of voice that communicates your goodwill.
2. As you follow through with a consequence, assure your children that they may try again later.
3. If the misbehavior is repeated, extend the time that must elapse before your child tries again.


• Be both firm and kind. Firmness refers to your follow-through behavior. Kindness refers to the manner in which you present the choice.
• When you do for your children what they can do for themselves, you are taking away self-respect and responsibility.
• Avoid fights; they indicate lack of respect for the other person.
• Do not give in; that indicates lack of respect for yourself.
• Be patient, it will take time for natural and logical consequences to be effective.

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About the Author: Tracy Wutzke
I’m a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Clinical Training Supervisor.

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