Natural and Logical Consequences – What is the difference?

Both natural and logical consequences produce feedback that allow our children to learn from experiences over time.

A natural consequence of our behavior is one that can happen organically, without any preparation or prompting from an adult, the outcome happens naturally as a force of nature. Children observe these consequences of their behavior and make corrections to their behavior as needed (some neurodivergent children need help along the way with this). Here are a few examples of natural consequences:

+When a child is whisking eggs with gusto (!) and some of the egg spills out of the bowl onto the countertop. They will incarnate this experience and adjust behavior accordingly the next time they are whisking eggs.

+When a child chooses against outerwear on a chilly day outside. They feel the weather and decide that they are uncomfortable with the temperature and adjust the behavior either same day, or at the next opportunity to play outdoors. (This one can be tough for parents to allow to happen naturally!)

Natural consequences cannot be inorganically produced and they are often the best control of error, or teacher, for a child and his or her behavior.

A logical consequence is a consequence is provided by a guide or caregiver to help a child learn a consequence for a behavior that is not helpful or healthy for his or her development. Typically, logical consequences are provided when a natural consequence is not available and/or could be a safety hazard to the child. A logical consequence can also be provided when the caregiver sets a boundary. Here are examples:

+When a child is not able to clean up his or her toys and the playroom is a mess. This could be a reflective moment on the part of the caregiver to take toys away and set up only the amount that the child can successfully restore to order. Note: This should not be a “punishment.” If the child is overwhelmed with the amount of stimulus, it is our job to create an environment that is conducive to the child completing the cycle of activity of work/play.

+When a child is jumping on furniture because it is fun to jump! Instead of allowing a “natural” consequence in this scenario (fall with a head bump, loose tooth, or broken toe – this one could be a major safety hazard!) we offer a logical consequence instead by saying: “we can sit on the couch. It is a place to relax and stretch out. Can you stretch on the couch? I see your climbing dome outside if you want to climb and jump.” A mini trampoline or rebounder can be a fun option for jumping as well.

All of these can and should be tailored to your environment and your family’s needs. Each family culture is a little differnent, so these logical consequences can vary quite a bit!

If you want help with a behavior or surrounding circumstance with your little one, please reach out to me on the contact page – I will be happy to help!

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