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Why Use Natural Consequences?

Carefree Drive

Step By Step Parenting Tips 8

Sometimes as parents, we try to shield our children from the harsh realities of life. For example: A child might over feed their fish (despite being told not to) and the fish dies. Their parent, concerned by the child's sadness rushes out and buys a replacement fish. And two weeks later the next fish dies...

Failure to let your child experience the natural consequences of their actions can result in them becoming less responsible than they otherwise might be.

By letting your child experience natural consequences, they learn the way the world really works.

  • Natural consequences are a part of every day adult life and can be used if children are:

  1. Not valuing things

  2. Lying

  3. Deliberately rule breaking

  • Shielding children from natural consequences can limit their understanding of the way the world works

  • Linking increased privileges with increased responsibility, encourages maturity rather than entitlement

  • Set phone rules prior to giving a child a phone, and expect them to be maintained


  • Children's rights are mandated by law but privileges are a bonus and can be used as a reward for responsible behaviour

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You could Let Your Child Experience the Natural Consequences of  What They've Done if they're:

  • Not valuing things: If your child isn't taking care of something and they break it, (if it's a privilege) they go without it for a time.


Phones are currently a big issue for parents because they're so expensive to replace. It's important for children to realize their possessions need to be taken care of, rather than just be replaced, by you.

As an example of not valuing things: Your child leaves their guitar laying near an open window and it rains, (despite the fact you've asked them not to do this many times.) The neck of the guitar warps making it difficult to play. The natural consequence is, they don't have a guitar until they can afford to replace it.

Students Taking Exams

Children often don't learn the real value of things until either they go without them or they start earning money themselves.

N.B. If your teenage child is developing a sense of entitlement and expects a lot, encourage your child to get part-time work, (when they're old enough,) for up to 10 hours a week, so they learn to value both their money and their time.

Learning the Value of Money

My teenage son said not long after he got a part-time job: 'I'm not buying that... That costs three hours of my life.'


What a great lesson to learn. Because every purchase, is costing part of someone's life.

Popsicle Break

  • Lying: Give your child the benefit of the doubt where possible, but not when you know they're lying.


For example: Your child is sent from an exam room for, in their words, 'doing nothing.' And was told by the principal to tell you about it. Is it likely they really were doing nothing? Something you could say might be: 'You were sent out of an exam for doing nothing. Does that make sense to you? (Because it doesn't to me.)


They may try to retell the same story but instead of buying it, re ask the same question. 'Sorry, I don't think you heard my question. 'Does that make sense to you? The principal told you that you were sent from an exam room for doing nothing. Does that make sense? How about you tell me the whole story... For example: What happened just before you were sent out of the room...'

Boy Checking his Phone

And it's logical to link increased privileges for your children with increasing responsibility, remembering the goal is to raise independent capable adults.

  • Deliberately Rule Breaking: If your child is flouting the rules and being disrespectful, they may need to be made more aware of the difference between rights and privileges.


Considering your teenagers often rely upon you for many of their privileges, this gives you some bargaining power. Fashion clothing, going to movies or concerts, access to streaming channels are privileges, not rights.


Does your child expect you to supply a phone, pay for calls and internet and then treat you with disrespect if you ask them to put their phone away for meal times.

 Would a sensible person continue to let them have this privilege?

Friends with a Phone

Dig down to find the truth. Ring the principal to thank them for caring enough to make your child tell you there had been an issue. Find out more. And then follow it up with your child. The natural consequence of lying could be: loss of independent privileges such as going to a friend's place, (where your child would need to be trusted.) Explain that lying creates holes in family relationships because it creates distrust and families members need to be able to trust one another.


If for example your teenager isn't where they said they would be, the consequence of lying could be they'll be checked up on until they earn your trust back.



Phone Rules

Perhaps instead of just giving your child a phone in the first place, explain that it's a privilege and it will be treated as a privilege. The phone remains your property and there will be rules and expectations governing its use by your teenager.

Some suggested phone rules could be, for example:

  • The phone can only be used after kids are ready for school in the morning, until school commences. And then after school until 8:30 at night. (This ensures quality sleep.) Homework must be kept completed and if phone usage intrudes, the hours of available phone time will be reduced.


  • Phones passwords are to be made available to parents (for young teenagers) and parents need to be able to check phones periodically to ensure they're happy with the way they're being used.

  • Phones need to be turned off during meal times. Parents need to model this behavior too as teenagers are quick to spot hypocrisy.



  • Usage costs are expected to be kept below what you agree. If it's good enough for the parents to budget phone use, so can teenagers.


  • Discuss there are codes of behaviour for phone usage before there is an issue.

For example: swearing, online bullying or sexting are things that will not be tolerated and will result in immediate loss of phone privileges. This could be for a minimum of one week but for online bullying or sexting it could be much longer. The reinstatement of privileges would also require parent monitoring.


(For example: I was talking to a parent whose 14 year old son was found to be sexting. After removing phone privileges for a time, he now has to voluntarily turn over his phone to his parents, whenever they ask, to check it out. Either that or not use it at all.)

Remember, by law you have to maintain your teenagers rights, but privileges are a bonus.

Step 9: Clear Boundaries Help Raise Good Kids

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Best parenting takes time. The best parenting advice ever is simple: Do your best, don't give up and love your children, no matter what.

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