Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Learning from Natural Consequences

This idea was taken from the book, Home Improvement, The Parenting Book You Can Read to Your Kids, by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN.
Sometimes the best way to help a child is by doing nothing and staying out of the way, allowing a natural consequence to provide the teaching. You’ve probably learned a number of things through natural consequences. Maybe more than you’d like to admit.
- save your sales receipt so you’ll have it if you need to return what you bought
- buy gas when your tank is on “E” even if you’re late for work
- don’t forget to water your plants
- don’t wash your husband’s red sweatshirt with his white underwear
Natural consequences allow life to provide its own lesson without outside intervention. When a parent intentionally stays out of a problem and makes little or no comment, the child has an opportunity to learn from life.
In the Bible, Peter was allowed to experience a natural consequence of lack of faith when he stepped out of the boat in Matthew 14. After he began to sink, however, Jesus was there to help him. Jesus also allowed Peter to make the mistake of denying him three times. No lectures or rebukes were needed; just a look from the master’s eyes and Peter was overcome with remorse. Many times in the gospels, Jesus allowed life to be the teacher and he took on the role of counselor or coach.
Natural consequences often happen if we, as parents, learn to keep quiet. The four-year-old who goes out to play on a hot day wearing a turtleneck learns by experience. The six-year-old who chooses to skip snack because she wants to continue her game may feel the pain later. The ten-year-old who spends all his money on one thing may wish he had not done so. Each of these experiences can be a learning opportunity if the parent responds wisely.
The question then is how are we going to respond? These may be tempting opportunities for parents to condemn, lecture, or put down a child. When you identify these situations in life, they are excellent opportunities to come alongside, express empathy, and help a child learn problem-solving skills.
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1 comment:

MamaHen Em said...

This is great! I am a firm believer in natural consequences and so we often allow our kids to fall. I always feel like the distance is so much shorter at the ages of 5 and 7 that the fall won't hurt as much. Hopefully by the time they are making bigger decsions, they have already learned this idea and they won't fall so often or so hard. It's scary to think about what natural consequences can be once they hit the teenage years and if they don't have a firm understanding, they can be devestating.

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