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Natural and Logical Consequences: Examples and Uses

Laura Kuehn, LCSW
Written by Laura Kuehn, LCSW

Parents often tell me that while they might “get it” in their heads (meaning parenting principles and concepts), they have a hard time translating head knowledge into action. Unfortunately, children don’t come with an owner’s manual. But we can equip ourselves with tools to make our efforts more effective. Natural and logical consequences are one such tool. This post will provide some basic information regarding natural and logical consequences and examples of how to implement them in your home.

What are Natural and Logical Consequences?

These types of consequences are just what they sound like: consequences that come about because of a natural progression of events. They are not arbitrarily applied by a parent, but are simply the “fall out” that occurs after a poor choice is made. They are connected to the “crime” in some fashion. They are applied in a very matter-of-fact (but not biting or retaliative) way in an effort to teach the child a family value or rule.

Note: Natural and logical consequences can be sabotaged by parents who feel the need to “rescue” their children before they have an opportunity to learn from their mistakes. Being told about all the possible outcomes of a choice is not nearly as effective as having experienced one of those outcomes personally.

For Which Behaviors are they Effective?

The following are some of the best opportunities for parents to implement natural and logical consequences:

  • When the child is displaying selfish behaviors
  • When a child has a history of making the same mistake over and over (and you have previously “rescued” him from the effects of his behavior)
  • When the child is demonstrating problems related to personal responsibility (cleaning up after himself, putting things away, etc)
  • When the child is developmentally ready to test his decision-making skills (i.e.: preteens and teens)
  • When the child is engaging in power struggles related to food and eating

For Which Behaviors are they Ineffective?

Some parenting experts assert that natural and logical consequences are effective for any and all misbehaviors. I disagree. There are some behaviors that require a higher level of parental intervention. Here are a few:

  • When the child has physically harmed another person or property
  • When the child has offended someone in some way
  • When the child is refusing to do homework (there could be an underlying learning disability)
  • When there is an issue of safety (such as risk-taking behavior in teens)

Examples of Misbehaviors and a Natural and Logical Consequence

Problem Behavior

Natural and Logical Consequence

Child forgets musical instrument at home for the third time in a row. The instrument stays at home and the music or band lesson needs to be made up later.
Child refuses to shower despite efforts to increase compliance. Child develops body odor and will have to deal with social repercussions from peers.
Child does not put laundry in hamper as asked. Only the clothes that appear in the hamper on laundry day get washed.
Child screams in the house after being told not to. Child is sent outside to play.
Child does not pick up toys after being asked. Child loses the privilege of playing with those particular toys until the ones that remain are picked up when asked.
Child does not come to the table when called. Dinner stops being served when the rest of the family is done.
Child does not put baseball glove away when asked. Child has a wet baseball glove for practice.

Do you have some examples of your own to share? Please feel free to do so in the comment section.

Photo credit: phaewilk from

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for treatment from a qualified mental health professional. Cornerstones for Parents is not liable for any advice, tips, techniques, and recommendations the reader chooses to implement.

About Laura

Laura Kuehn, LCSW

Laura Kuehn, LCSW

Laura is a licensed therapist who offers parent counseling services to families in Connecticut. She loves to equip and encourage parents of kids of all ages. CfP is the place she combines some of her favorite things: writing, parenting and God's word. She is happily married to a wonderfully supportive husband and is the mother of two delightfully inspiring teens.

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