5 Ways You Can Let Natural Consequences Teach

Do mornings at your house ever sound something like this?

Get dressed!
You're going to be late.
I need you to get your shoes on!
Why haven't you brushed your teeth yet?
Why are you messing around?
You have to finish your breakfast.
It's time to leave.
Here, here are some socks.
Put them on.
Don't you know where your backpack is?
I'll grab your lunch.
Now you're going to be late.

or weekends like this...

I'm not the maid around here.
I need everyone to start contributing.
I want you to pick up your toys.
I told you to clean your room.
Pick up your dirty laundry.

Clean up this mess.

Do secretly hope that your children will be motivated to change their behavior with gentle prompts, helpful commands, or by reminding them how to do things, but ultimately you give up and do it for them?

Mornings at my house used to sound something like the above scenario. My daughter likes to take her time in the morning. She does not want to be rushed, and she needs supportive systems in place to help stay on task and get out the door on time.

My helpful reminders were not working.
A change was needed.   

How often do you override the natural consequences because you can't see any immediate benefit? Maybe you're afraid that the impact won't be sufficient enough, or you worry won't be doing your job as a parent if you don't add your advice, interpretation, and point out the valuable lessons.

How often do you interrupt the process of cause-and-effect for your own convenience (or sanity) or to prevent your kids (or yourself) from
failing at something, feeling embarrassed, or experiencing the less-than-pleasant effects of their actions?

Who does this serve?

If children are going to internalize a set of values which motivate them
 to be self-directed and accomplish goals, they must be allowed to fully experience the effects of their actions - positive and negative - without interference, evaluation, judgment or unnecessary assistance.  

If you want your children to recognize how their behavior impacts them and others, try not to:

give commentary
(exclusions for safety/danger)
offer advice
give lectures 

attempt to fix the problem
do things for your children

It isn't always easy to allow the natural consequences to do the teaching which they are intended to do. 

We want to show.
We want to tell.
We want to demand.
We want to insist.

We also want to know that if we allow the events to unfold without adding our input, relying on external motivators, or saving our children from their actions - is it enough to elicit change?
In this TEACHable Moments video, I share 5 ways you can allow natural consequences to teach as they were intended.

How did I turn around the morning madness in my house?

1. I determined the root cause of the conflict (skills, stress, support) and together, my daughter and I created a plan to allow her practice these transitions independently. 

She created a list on her dry erase board so she could keep track of her morning routine, and check off the tasks as she completed them.

Eat breakfast.
Brush teeth
Get dressed
Put on socks and shoes
Get lunch + library books
Put everything in backpack.

2. I decided to make changes which empowered me to set compassionate boundaries around our individual needs.

I chose to wake up earlier than everyone to set my intentions for the day, and have some quiet, peaceful meditation time so that I could be emotionally present. 

I also wake my daughter early enough so that neither of us feels rushed in the morning. 

3. We connect in the morning by having a relaxed breakfast as we prepare ourselves for the day. 

It's not always comfortable or perfect, and growth is not a straight line. This is what my family needed to manage the mornings effectively

Your family might do it differently.  

Do you find it challenging not to demand or do things for your kids? How hard is it for you to allow your children to feel the natural consequences of their actions?

I'd love to know what strategies help you let go and trust in the natural consequences. After you watch the video, share your story in the comments below.   

Talk soon,

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About Lori

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