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Natural Consequences: The Most Powerful Teaching Device


Clinical psychologist and award-winning author Dr. Shefali Tsabary explains why letting the natural consequences of misbehavior unfold may be the most effective teaching device.

Learn more about Dr. Tsabary’s parenting philosophy in her best-selling book: The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children.

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1 Comment

  1. Laurie Wolfrum
    June 3, 2014 @ 11:23 pm

    What was described IS punishment, not natural consequences. And it is a mean and unsafe thing to do to your child. Or anyone! Imagine if that child falls down and gets hurt because the parent tried to teach their child a lesson by taking out the lightbulb. Ugh…. How about if a husband or wife thought their spouse left too many lights on? Would taking out the bulb be even something a person would think of? Of course not! People (of all ages) sometimes forget. So remind them. Talk to them about why it is important to you to do xyz. If they forget again, flip the switch off yourself. How big of a deal is that to do? They’ll grow up….fast. Help them out for now and trust that they are doing their best. And in the meantime, model how you want them to be and do the things you would like them to do (you remember to turn off the lights for example).

    Natural consequences are more like a child being cold because she forgot her jacket. If a person isn’t able to borrow something to get warm, yes, that would be a natural consequence.

    However, natural consequences don’t have to be set up in order to happen and shouldn’t be used to “teach a lesson.” There will be plenty of lessons learned without trying.

    If mom/dad was going along with a child who didn’t bring a jacket, one of the parents could put one in the back of the car just in case. Why? Because mom/dad thinks ahead and feels it would be a nice thing to do in case their child gets cold. It is not a kind lesson to purposely let your kid suffer because you told them to bring a jacket and they forgot or truly believed they didn’t need one. Some kids run warmer than others and really feel comfortable in cooler weather. Others are still figuring out when they need one and when they don’t. Plus temperatures can change fast or the place you go to visit may be warmer or cooler than expected.

    Forget trying to “teach your kid a lesson” (under the guise of natural consequences or any other trendy words). Be kind. Because kindness begets kindness. Now that is a lesson they can give back to others and it will be appreciated!


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