top of page

Natural Consequences Fit Easily

A wonderful parenting goal strives to eliminate punishment by using consequences that teach. Natural outcomes, which require little or no effort, provide the finest learning opportunities. When outcomes happen naturally, parents reduce their child’s feelings of resentment. Maybe you have noticed that whether dealing with a child, teen, or adult, letting consequences unfold naturally seems to beat getting angry or punishing.

Natural Consequences Provide the Easiest Outcomes

Although punishments can feel terrible, consequences that connect to actions seem logical. When logic enters the picture, learning also takes place.

Without consequences, which we sometimes call corrections, children fail to learn about physical and emotional limitations. Although all humans begin life with a “me” focus, those who never move beyond this stage decide, I should always get what I want. The feelings of others don’t matter.

Consider the reasons why the natural consequences below worked well.

Reason This Natural Consequence Worked Well

Mike yelled angrily at Jose.

After Mike yelled at him, Jose no longer wanted to play with Mike.

Parents did not have to get involved because the consequence came about naturally. Although Mike felt sad, he understood Jose’s reasons.

After being told not to do so, Mary ate half a box of candy.

Mary felt too sick to play with her friends.

Mary’s parents did not cause her illness, and the consequence unfolded naturally. Mary connected the candy to her illness without blaming her parents.

Story: Consequence of Not Wearing a Coat

When my daughter Joy was five years old, two other mothers and I decided our young children would benefit from a daycare program. If pressed to tell the truth, we would have acknowledged that our kids were fine, but we moms seriously needed a little childcare relief. Ultimately, we decided that if we wanted the job done right, we would have to do it ourselves. And so, we did. We divided the days, and each of us became a preschool teacher once a week.

On a cold, windy morning, it was Marian’s turn to be the teacher of the day. Even with a cold, blustery wind, Marian decided a walk would be good for everyone. All children save one hustled into their winter coats.

Marian, noticing that Joy had not put on her coat, said, “Joy, it’s cold and windy outside. Put your coat on, please.”

Joy: “I don’t want to wear my coat. My mommy lets me make my own choices.”

And so, Joy made her choice and didn’t wear her coat. After walking two blocks from Marian’s house, Joy said, “Marian, I’m cold. I want to go back to your house now.”

Marian replied, “Joy, you made the choice to leave your coat at the house. I’m sorry, but you are going to have to be cold.”

Marian allowed Joy to experience the natural consequence of her choice to go coatless. Shivering for a short time provided an important lesson. What would Joy have learned if Marian had abruptly taken the group home? Joy might have decided, It’s all about me. I can always get what I want. In truth, it’s all about learning lessons.

Ideas come from Parenting with Kindness and Consequences, pages 133 - 136. Barbara Frandsen


Bailey, Becky .n.d.“Why Conscious Discipline Consequences Work and Punishments Don’t.” Conscious Discipline, September 25, 2018. https://consciousdiscipline. com/why-conscious-discipline-consequences-work/.

de Bellefonds, Colleen. “Consequences for Toddlers: Fast Ways to Stop Bad Behavior.” What to Expect, March 12, 2019. https://www.whattoexpect. com/toddler-discipline/consequences-for-toddlers.aspx.


bottom of page