In my Charlotte Mason Style Homeschooling group I have been having a habit training book discussion. We have been reading Laying Down The Rails and each of us has picked a habit to focus on for the last 6-8 weeks. The habit of obedience has come up quite a bit and a couple of moms have shown more interest in it. We’ve discussed it thoroughly in our CM group but then another Mom brought up logical consequences.
Her inquiry was essentially this, “What is everyone’s thoughts on natural or logical consequences?”
Personally I blend Habit Training from a Charlotte Mason philosophy & Positive Parenting techniques.
Charlotte: Rewards & Punishment Should Be Relative Consequences
”There is a law by which all rewards & punishments should be regulated: they should be natural, or at any rate the relative consequences of conduct; should imitate, as nearly as may be without injury to the child…” (Charlotte Mason Home Education pg. 148
Natural & Edcative Consequences
”It is evident that to administer rewards & punishments on this principle requires patient consideration and steady determination on the mother’s part. She must consider with herself what fault of disposition the child’s misbehavior springs from; she must aim her punishment at that fault, and must brace herself to see her child suffer present loss for lasting gain…..this happens continually-the child who has done well gains some natural reward (like 10 minutes in the garden).” Charlotte Mason Home Education pg. 148
”The natural consequence of the child’s fault is precisely that which it is her business to avert, while, at the same time, she looks about for some consequence related to the fault which shall have an educative bearing on the child.” Charlotte Mason Home Education pg. 149
How positive parenting and Charlotte’s method work together using Logical, Natural, and Associated consequences.
The Five R’s
One reason I practice positive parenting is because it emphasizes the importance of respecting the child as a person. Prior to providing any type of discipline start with the five R’s. This approach really helps to implement various types of consequences effectively.
- Be respectful-no need to humiliate them. (Which agrees with Charlotte’s 4th principle: These principles are limited by the respect due to the personality of children, which must not be encroached upon whether by the direct use of fear or love, suggestion or influence, or by undue play upon any one natural desire.)
- Related. Regardless of the type of consequence, in order for it to be a teachable moment it should be related to the misbehavior.
- Reasonable– consider developmental ability, different needs, and making sure the consequence isn’t being overdone.
- Revealed in advance– If you know this is an issue for your child (if it occurs once it will most likely occur again) then reveal to them what the related consequence will be next time so that there is a clear idea of expectations.
- Repeat back to you- This was a game changer for me… often times my oldest is in her own world. Which means I needed to first get her attention and then have her repeat back her consequence. This way there is never any, “Well I didn’t hear you or you didn’t say that.”
Moving on to various types of consequences…
A natural consequence is a negative scenario that you allow to unfold naturally as a result of your child’s misbehavior. When I first read about this I was really struggling with getting my oldest to put her shoes on before leaving the house. I think this is also the example Amy McCready used in her book. I look back on this now and realize how much of a disruption it was to our family and how thankful I am that I came across positive parenting techniques.
To give an example I would repeat myself multiple times on instructing her to put her shoes on. She didn’t listen, I felt exasperated, and we were constantly late for things because of a lack of her getting ready.
In all fairness it wasn’t just a mere lack of not wanting to listen. Due to some issues with executive function (ability to organize and manage tasks) she needed the task of leaving the house broken down into steps.
Another reasonable consideration was making sure I had her attention. The habit of attention is one of many that is covered in Charlotte’s methods. After covering that habit I now say, “please give me your attention.” Then proceed with how we need to get ready and then list the steps on how to get there.
After all that work I still had issues with her putting her shoes on to leave the house. Which is when I came up with a new plan
I stopped repeating myself…
Then I stated that if she didn’t put her shoes on she would have to do without wherever we went. To the park… To a friends house…to the store. Each situation provided a lesson that she needed to experience in order to learn what naturally happens if you don’t wear your shoes.
It didn’t take long for her to figure out she needs to put her shoes on before leaving the house.
The best part? No more struggling to get out the door or being late because of this issue.
Logical consequences are ones that just make sense. They are used when natural consequences are not available or do not apply. Nothing negative naturally unfolds in some scenarios which means you need to implement a consequence.
Isn’t he the sweetest? Lately, he has been unrolling all of our toilet paper and trailing it through the house. This time I caught him in the act. The time after this was an epic unrolling, while I was in the shower he managed to unroll an entire 48 pack of mega rolls. I’d cry if it wasn’t so funny…the image of him sitting there in all that toilet paper. His little eyes peeping up at me, “Look I made a birds nest.”
This one falls under (age appropriate) lack of maturity and a very active imagination. Which I don’t wish to discourage imagination but unrolling toilet paper won’t do. The logical consequence was to have him clean it all up which he did. He also absolutely loves his independence we intentionally keep toilet paper at his height so he can get it himself.
Step One: I told him it would go back where he can’t reach and he will have to ask for it should he do this again.
Step Two: I had him repeat it.
Guess what? He did it again and I followed through with my logical consequence. Once he is remorseful and desires his independence back, he will naturally be rewarded with return of the toilet paper to his level.
You may have read in this article 5 Tips For Encouraging Cleaning In Your Family that I love one liners for moments when I am floundering.
Starting a sentence with “Either-or” helps to come up with logical consequences on the spot. “Either you shut the T.V. off without an argument now or you lose your T.V. Privileges for the day.”
I say this so often in my Charlotte Mason group but it is something that needs repeated. Someone can be the most educated & knowledgable person but if that person lacks character then it will be very difficult for him/her to truely be successful as adults. If a person lacks self control, attention, or being able to listen and follow out instructions how successful will they be in their career? Consider also their interpersonal relationships-friendships and future spouse. These formative years are some of the most important and using habit training with positive parenting techniques builds a solid foundation in Character.