Parenting With Natural Consequences: What You Need To Know

There comes a time when your child will believe they have it all figured out. They know right from wrong, they understand social norms and acceptable behavior, and they know how to do everything and CAN do everything better than you. This is not referring to your teenager. Nope. It has probably happened long before the teenage years. If you find yourself in a constant battle with your know-it-all, here is what you need to know about parenting using natural consequences.

What Are Natural Consequences?

Parenting With Natural Consequences: What You Need To Know

Natural consequences occur as a result of an action without intervention or manipulation from someone (parents). For example, you tell your child not to take money to the store in their pocket because of the risk of them losing it. Your child insists that they won’t lose it and that they want to carry it. Rather than argue, you allow them to carry the money having forewarned them that if the money is lost that it will not be replaced. Your child loses the money and is not able to buy anything at the store. Rather than swoop in and save the day, you allow them to experience the natural consequence of going to the store and not having money to buy anything. Natural consequences happen without prompting from you as the parent and without you intervening to avoid them. No lie, this stinks. Watching your child disappointed really sucks. However, as children and their needs change, parenting techniques often evolve. Let’s be real, you have already told them the same things 5 million times. Your know-it-all should have known, and if they didn’t, then they do now.

3 Reasons To Parent Using Natural Consequences

Prepares Children For Lifelong Learning

Parenting With Natural Consequences: What You Need To Know

As an adult, you make decisions every day and the opportunities to learn are endless. It’s not like you woke up one day and had it all figured out. Most of your knowledge is informal knowledge. Not something you learned from a book or class, but rather life experiences. So how would someone learn anything if they were not given the opportunity to have experiences to draw from? It’s simple. They wouldn’t. Even in adulthood we are living and experiencing new things everyday. These experiences give us the opportunity to make decisions and determine if those decisions were the right ones. Some are easy, like don’t leave crayons in the hot car thinking you will remember to get them out. (Been there, done that, lesson learned). Some lessons are not so easy. Either way, incorporating natural consequences now will prepare them for a learning technique that they will use even into adulthood.

Read More: Run To The Chopper A Look At Helicopter Parenting

Prevents Argumentative Relationships With Your Child

In an ideal world, you would not argue with your child. After all, you (as parents) are the judge, jury, and executioner in your household. But, there are days that you divvy out lollipops and remind them that you have Santa on speed dial to avoid an argument. Let’s make an effort to make these days few and far between, if not totally nonexistent. Natural consequences can help you in this endeavor. Instead of arguing with them, allow them to safely make the wrong decision. Then you can use the natural consequence as a teaching moment and one that you didn’t cause, your child did. states that natural consequences reduce arguments and blame. Simply reiterate that they made their decision, this was the consequence that you did not influence and that if they would like a different outcome next time than they would need to make a different choice.

Read More: Save Your Ever-Lovin’ Mind: 5 Simple Parenting Hacks

Gives Parents A Reprieve

Parenting With Natural Consequences: What You Need To Know

You need a break. And quite frankly you deserve one! Between laundry, carpool, diapers, meals, homework, baths, bedtime routines, and the list goes on and on, you need a little help. The biggest part of parenting, aside from love, is teaching your child. You probably savored every smile from your baby when you showed them something new and exciting. These sweet moments quickly morphed into the “no” phase of toddlerhood and before you know it you have a temper tantrum or full-on meltdown in the middle of a crowded restaurant over a broken cookie. Teaching children is exhausting. (Quick shout out to all the teachers out there). Is it the teaching or the redundancy and trying to avoid negative outcomes for your children that make you want to have a very large adult beverage at the end of the day?

At some point, you may need to take a backseat and let natural consequences do the teaching. You have taken those know-it-alls as far as you can. You have told them (too many times), warned them of the outcomes, and now you have to let them face the consequences even if it pains you to watch them have a negative experience.

When Natural Consequences May Not Be Effective

Natural consequences are not foolproof. There are a few instances when natural consequences won’t work for teaching your children. For one, if the results are not immediately evident than your child is not likely to learn from it. Another time when natural consequences are not an effective teaching method is when the natural consequence encourages or reinforces negative behavior. For example, if your child takes a cookie and doesn’t get caught they may think that this action does not have a negative consequence and may repeat this behavior.

Read More: How To Avoid 10 Typical Parenting Blunders

When Natural Consequences Are Not An Option

Parenting With Natural Consequences: What You Need To Know

Point blank: Never allow a child to be in danger. According to Bethel Park School District, “No consequence should ever place a child at risk for injury”. Some natural consequences may cause a few tears here and there. They may not feel warm and fuzzy or be what your child was hoping for, but that was the intent. You can’t set this parenting thing on autopilot and let the environment and society teach them everything. Rest assured, you have job security. There may be times that you have told them something too many times and you decide to let them figure it out “the hard way”. “The hard way” should ALWAYS be “the safe way”. Your supervision is necessary so that you can intervene if their safety is at risk.

Here is the truth: Parents can’t and won’t save their children from all negative experiences and emotions. Life is hard, my dear. The goal should be to develop children that can have negative experiences, learn from them, be resilient, and persevere. If not, then they won’t make it past a Monday as an adult. Allowing natural consequences to take place in your child’s life will prepare them for the road that lies ahead.

Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Here is to Getting Through Days When Parenting Is Hard.

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Parenting With Natural Consequences: What You Need To Know

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Amanda Armstrong
Amanda Armstrong
Amanda resides in Raleigh, NC with her husband and two children. She has taken a break from being a pediatric/NICU nurse to be a stay-at-home mom and personal chauffeur to her rambunctious daughter and playful son. Amanda enjoys learning photography, antiquing, trout fishing, and decorating.

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