Discipline with Natural Consequences – July 2016

The sun is setting. You see that your 8-year-old son has left his new baseball cap out on the picnic table, and it’s supposed to rain. What do you do?

According to Beverly Anderson, executive director for Ebenezer Child Care Centers with locations in downtown Milwaukee, on Milwaukee’s southside, and in Oak Creek and Wauwatosa, “You leave the cap outside. When the cap is wet in the morning, your son will hopefully learn that if he doesn’t pick up his things they could get ruined.”

Anderson adds, “Discipline with natural consequences is a very effective way to teach school-age children how to make better choices and be more responsible for their actions. It’s not simply revoking one of your child’s favorite privileges. True natural consequences automatically happen and result in an unpleasant situation as a direct result of your child’s choices.”

So how do you discipline with natural consequences? Here are some tips:

Make Sure the Discipline Is Intuitive
If your child doesn’t pick up his room, the natural consequence for his behavior might be that his laundry doesn’t get done, which will become a problem when it comes time to get ready for his next soccer game. Likewise, if he doesn’t put his electronic devices away, his younger siblings may play with them and break them.

Anderson says that natural consequences help to get children ready for adulthood by getting them think about the potential consequences of their choices. Natural consequences teach effective decision making skills and can also help eliminate power struggles with parents.

Don’t Let Natural Consequences Be Dangerous
Anderson adds, if you are going to use natural consequences for disciplining your child, you need to make sure they won’t cause him any harm.

For instance, if your son refuses to put on sunscreen and you know that he is going to be outside all day, this could cause great harm to your child’s skin. Whereas, if he refuses to wear a coat on a day where the temperatures dip down, he might find himself feeling a little cold but not in harm’s way.

Talk About the Consequence Afterward
Anderson says you should always talk about the consequences of your child’s actions or behaviors afterward, so he can learn from his mistakes.

“The point isn’t to get into an argument over what just occurred. It is to have a candid discussion about it, so you can prevent the situation from occurring again in the future.

“When a child is younger, he generally makes smaller mistakes that teach good life lessons. That is when you want your child to learn, versus when he is a teenager facing greater challenges like driving, drinking and using drugs that can destroy his or another person’s life.”

Ebenezer Child Care Centers is a not-for-profit, locally based agency committed to providing early childhood programs from the heart. The agency prides itself on being different from other child care providers in that it offers a home-like atmosphere; individualized, nurturing care; and a structured curriculum that is virtues-based for every child’s developmental stage.

Every Ebenezer Child Care Center focuses on all aspects of a child’s development: cognitive, physical, emotional, and social. In addition to providing quality care, the agency also offers free Parenting Talks and other educational programming all aimed at helping parents.

The agency has locations in downtown Milwaukee, on Milwaukee’s southside, and in Oak Creek and Wauwatosa. The agency’s main office is located at 1496 South 29th Street, Milwaukee. For more information, please call 414-643-5070.