Use Consequences to Teach

Consequences for disobedience are hard lessons. A seven-year-old neighbor had been told repeatedly to put his bike in the garage at night. His dad would notice it on the lawn and put it away. One night, his father failed to see it, and it was stolen.

Consequences of a bike left out can be that it's stolen

At such a young age, it would be a monumental task to make enough money to buy a new bike, however, his parents made him earn a significant portion of the replacement cost. Also, he was not allowed to purchase the new bike until he had his part of the cost in hand.

Consequences Can Be Tough Teachers

What a tough lesson—all those extra chores at home and jobs for neighbors when they would hire him, and…waiting. After that experience, there was no one as protective of property as he was with his new bike. I suspect the lesson carried over to his other belongings.

Learning from Consequences Is Good for Child

In Hebrews 12: 5-6, we read, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” (Hebrews 12:5-6 NIV) Can you accept the fact that discipline is good for your children? My neighbors agonized over making their son earn his next bike, but they knew it was necessary to teach him responsibility.

Logical and Natural Consequences

After we understand the importance of letting our children suffer consequences for their disobedience, we need to choose the consequences with care. Read an in depth discussion of logical and natural consequences at Using Natural and Logical Consequences.

Parents create logical consequences. Examples are losing the privilege to go out with friends because of broken curfew, locking up a bicycle for a week because it was left out in the yard, and restricting electronic use because of poor grades.

Natural consequences occur without parental effort. Examples are failing a test as a result of not studying, being late to school because of not getting up on time, or becoming a teen, unwed parent as a result of premarital sexual activity. Obviously, some consequences are more life changing than others.

Ask the Right Questions

It’s important that parents spend time helping their children learn from the consequences they experience. Significant questions to ask are, “How could you have done this differently?” and “So, now what are you going to do?” Both questions empower the child to be responsible for learning from the experience.

A Lesson Well Learned

I knew I had succeeded in teaching my children this concept when they began to call me from college to say, “I’ve had another learning experience. Want to hear about it?”

Questions: Will you share an experience when you allowed natural or logical consequences to teach your child? How hard was it to refrain from rescuing him or her?

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