Here’s a quick rundown of why logical consequences are such an important discipline tool.
1) It’s easy to stay consistent.
Once you have tried a few logical consequences and know they work, it’s easy to file those experiences away in your mental parenting toolbox and refer to them consistently. And as we all know, consistency is what matters most in improving your child’s behavior. If you choose a method that you’re not 100% sure of, you’re likely to question yourself in the midst of conflict. And once your child sees the glimmer of doubt in your eye, he will see that your authority is not impenetrable. This can lead to whining, manipulating and negotiating where your child ends up with all the control.
2) You don’t lose your cool.
When you react swiftly with logical consequences, it’s easy to do them with no emotion—which is what makes them so effective. You don’t want your child to think he has gotten under your skin or that he’s able to push you to the point of insanity. Staying calm is what allows you to maintain your authority, no matter how egregious his behavior may be.
3) You learn what really makes your child tick.
By testing out a few logical consequences, you’ll find one or two that seem to really affect your child. Sure, it’s best to get creative with your consequences and make them fit the crime, but when you find one or two that really seem to change your child’s behavior—which is one of our primary goals in parenting—then you can keep them in your back pocket and use them when no other consequence makes sense. But be wary of using them too often. See reason #4.
4) You keep your child on his toes.
If you use the same consequence over and over again, your child will know what’s coming when he disobeys. This will allow him to weigh the odds and see if his misbehavior is really worth the consequence. He may determine that sneaking a cookie when he’s not allowed is worth spending ten minutes in his room. When you mix up your logical consequences, it keeps your child on his toes so he obeys for the sake of obedience and doing what’s right, not because he has weighed the pros and cons.
5) You teach a lesson and make it memorable.
I mentioned this in my last post, but it’s worth mentioning again. The whole point of administering logical consequences is to teach a lesson and to make that lesson memorable. If you have sent your child to his room for the tenth time in the day, it’s likely he’s not going to remember whatever lesson you are teaching at that moment. But take him back to the store to apologize to the store manager for putting a pack of gum in his pocket—that he will remember.