Natural and logical consequences.

When Matt was very young, I was a spanker. I didn’t see anything wrong with spanking. After all, I’d been spanked as a kid, and I turned out okay, right? Except I wasn’t just spanking my son — I was releasing my anger and frustration with his behavior, too. There was one night that I realized that it was over. I won’t discuss the details of that particular night, but I will say this — my 3 year old child looked at me and reacted to me with fear. That was it for me. I wasn’t going to hit anymore. Period.

That moment changed a lot of things. In the intervening decade, I’ve certainly lost my temper and reacted with a quick swat (or worse), but those lapses have been few and far between, and I’ve apologized and owned my own poor behavior as quickly as possible. My kids need to know that I’m human, too, and I screw up just like everyone else. But they also need to know that I don’t have the right to hit them. No one has the right to hit them. Can you imagine my reaction if our neighbor had spanked Matt for stealing from her? She’d have been in jail post-haste. Why is it any better for me to be the one to hit him when he screws up? In my mind, it isn’t.

At any rate, having grown up in a home where there were two punishments (spanking and grounding), I’ve honestly been at my wit’s end more often than not about how to effectively discipline my kids. Then I came across a website that discussed natural and logical consequences. I had a huge AHA! moment. Finally, a method of discipline that really made sense. (I’ve also implemented a lot of stuff from the “Positive Parenting” line of books, but that’s for another post, I think.)

What struck me most about the idea of letting kids suffer the natural consequences of their actions (or imposing logical consequences when it isn’t safe to let them suffer the natural ones) was how very obvious it was as a solution to nearly every parenting “dilemma” I’ve ever had. The toughest part about it is actually letting your kids suffer the consequences of their actions, but since I have no desire to walk around behind them for the rest of their lives picking up their messes, I have to let. go. sometimes.

So, what methods do you use to discipline? If you don’t have children yet, do you have any methods you plan on using?

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