Natural Consequences – A better teacher than us!
Natural Consequences – A better teacher than us!
Do you ever feel exhausted by parenting?
Like there are just not enough minutes in the day to:
- Help everyone?
- Fix everything?
- Solve every problem?
- Teach every lesson?
I think most of us are silently nodding our heads saying “Heck yes, every darn day!”.
Well I have good news for you…an idea for you to take a few things OFF your to-do list each day! Interested?
Ok, what I’m talking about is incorporating MORE natural consequences into our parenting walk to let LIFE take over on some of the important lessons our kids need to learn.
We were never designed to do it all. Yes, we know a lot from our past few decades on this beautiful earth, but many of the things we learned were from making our own mistakes & learning from them, so let’s allow our kids to do the same.
Natural consequences are the best way for kids to learn because the lesson comes from experience & SHOWS them why they need to make a different choice next time (instead of just telling them).
Not from us:
- nagging them
- scolding them
- telling them why we’re right
- punishing them
- reminding them
….but simply by letting them experience the natural consequences of their choices.
For example, here are some areas that I’ve watched my own two kids learn through natural consequences:
- stubbing their toe when scootering when they refused to wear shoes
- not bringing a sweatshirt to the beach & being cold
- forgetting to pack their bags for volleyball & skateboarding & being late to practice
- tripping & falling when moving too fast
- wetting their pants when they waited too long to get to the potty (life is just TOO exciting sometimes)
- not eating all their dinner & then being hungry before bed
- leaving their legos out & the dog getting to them & ruining them (darn puppy!)
- not cleaning up their room, then being late to a playdate because they couldn’t find what they wanted to wear
- going to bed too late the night before at a sleepover & feeling cruddy & grouchy the next day (adults, anyone ever had a hangover? natural consequence!!!!)
- being a bit “bossy” with pals & then not getting invited to a party or sleepover
The key to letting the “experience” or “mistake” do the teaching is to NOT chime in with the judgmental & irritated tones / comments such as:
“I told you so”
“If you just would have listened…”
“This is why you should do what I say”
“Maybe now you’ll learn”
“See? I knew this would happen, you’re never going to a sleepover again!”
Instead of those kind of comments, try using verbiage such as:
“Ouch, it looks like that hurt…what do you need to take care of yourself? What do you need to do differently next time so you don’t stub your toe? I can grab the ice pack if you get the bandaid?”
“Bummer, you’re shivering & really cold huh? what do you need to remember the next time we’re packing for a sunset trip tot he beach? I’m happy to snuggle with you to keep you warm this time”
“I can see you’re really bummed to be late to practice, in order to get here earlier next time, what can you do the night before? (pack her / his bag)”
“Oh my gosh, you hit your shin huh? do you need a hug? what did you learn from this about moving too fast?”
“You hate it when you have to wear a dirty volleyball shirt, I can see how sad you are….where can you put it next time so it makes it in the wash?”
“Going to bed hungry is hard, no wonder you are so sad, remember that tomorrow is a new day & you can make a different choice when we’re eating dinner to fill up your belly.”
When thinking of discipline & disciplines, I can’t help but think of Olympic athletes who gain incredible discipline at their chosen discipline in competition. Their training to make it to the top definitely includes lots of natural consequences:
- When a downhill skier takes one turn incorrectly & gets injured on the slopes, they are often out of competition and training for months. This kind of natural consequence teaches them how high the stakes are when they are speeding down a mountain at 65 miles per hour. No matter how many times a coach says to remember the correct angle at slalom turn number 3, NOTHING will teach them that lesson as well as an injury that puts them out for awhile. Of course we never want to get hurt in life, but there’s no arguing that it teaches us a firm lesson very effectively.
- When an athlete slacks off on their training or diet & loses a race, this is another natural consequence that stings, but is super effective in teaching them how NOT to make that same mistake again. If they want to be on the gold medal podium, they need to be at practice every single minute, every single day, training as hard as they possibly can.
Hopefully that helps you to see that natural consequences aren’t just for kids…they are universally effective in teaching all humans really well.
So try it out this week & see where you can pull back a bit …. to let your kids make a few mistakes, experience some sadness, maybe feel a bit of embarrassment, or regret, and then use the opportunity to support them & make a different plan for their actions tomorrow.
I think you will LOVE building more natural consequences into your parenting walk…but just remember, they are NOT ok when someone will get really hurt, someone’s property will get hurt or the effects are too long term for the child to understand (a cavity is a great example of that).
Comment below or DM / email me with any questions or success stories after you try some Natural Consequences, I LOVE hearing from you!