Why Consequences Matter

Why Consequences Matter

Jan 18, 2024

Follow the Show

Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Everywhere else


Over the past 15 years, I’ve seen a shift in our society’s approach to parenting. We’re moving away from punishment and shame and toward compassion (I love it!!). But gentle parenting has its pitfalls, too. Today, I’m talking about why consequences matter and how you can use natural and logical consequences to help your child understand and take responsibility for the impact of their behavior without hurting your relationship.


A Shift From Traditional To Gentle Parenting 

I've spent the last 15 years advocating for a shift in the way we approach discipline and consequences with our children. In the early days, it was revolutionary to me to learn that I didn't have to use pain, punishment, shame, spanking or time-outs to get through to my kids. Teaching parents this new, more compassionate approach was an uphill battle. 

These days, more and more moms are aware of gentler parenting philosophies. I’ve been able to see firsthand the shift that has happened over the last decade and a half. 

In working with moms of different generations, I’ve seen that Gen X struggles a lot more with trying to release themselves from those punitive measures and lecturing and shaming. It’s a lot of work. We didn’t have a model or map for this, but you’re here listening. You’re doing the work.

In millennial parents, there is a deeper desire to show up for your kids with compassion. You’re connected and committed, and I love it. I also want you to see that permissive parenting is a pitfall of gentle parenting. We need to still parent our children, which means we need to help them understand that their behavior has a result.

We’ve reached a point where parents are so aware of not wanting to hurt their kids that they’re often afraid to say no, to acknowledge that a behavior is causing a problem or to follow through with consequences.


Why Consequences Matter

This shift to a gentler parenting approach can even go so far as not wanting our kids to experience any kind of discomfort and doing whatever we can to prevent that from happening. We try to rescue them from their own choices and behavior, from the results of their own actions.

What I find myself teaching more and more now is that consequences aren’t mean. They’re necessary. It isn’t wrong to teach your kids that their behavior has an impact that is not okay.

I completely understand the desire to protect your kids from discomfort. But the truth is, if you constantly rescue your kids and don't let them experience the negative impact of their behavior, their behavior will not change.

The way that we teach our kids that their behavior causes problems is by showing them the problems and letting them experience the impacts of their behavior. 

If you don't bring impacts to your kids, how do they learn? What alternative do you have? You can talk and explain, but experience is the teacher.

You can be firm. You can be strong. You can be the leader in your family. And you can do these things without being harsh, mean or hurting your relationship with your child.

We do this by using natural and logical consequences, rather than punitive ones that focus on punishment, pain and shame.


Natural and Logical Consequences

Natural and logical consequences are two ways to let your kid experience the impact of their behavior. 

With natural consequences, the impact comes to your child. It is a direct result of their choice.

For example, you provide breakfast before school. Your kid chooses not to eat, so they’re going to feel hungry later. You did your part by giving them the opportunity to eat. A hungry belly is a good lesson. They’ll feel a little uncomfortable, but they aren’t going to starve because they’ll have other chances to eat later in the day.

With logical consequences, you bring the impact to your kid so that they see the connection between their behavior and the result of their behavior. 

Sometimes a natural consequence takes a long time to play out (e.g. hitting and insulting their sibling now might mean they don’t have a good relationship later) so we, as parents, need to bring the impact a little closer to our kids. Experiencing that impact is the motivating factor for them to change their behavior. 

The difference between a logical consequence and a more traditional punishment is that it isn’t our goal to make them feel pain or shame. 

Logical consequences usually start with a limit. For example, “You’re welcome to go play or use screens after your homework is finished.” So logically, if they don’t finish their homework, playtime or screentime doesn’t come. 

I also often teach the concept of restitution - restoring back the impact and fixing the mistakes that your behavior caused. Sometimes we have to get a little creative with these impacts. 

If you’re stuck, think of the three main resources we have: time, energy and money. Which of these is your kid’s behavior affecting? There is always a way you can transfer that impact back to your kid (and I teach tons of examples of this in my programs).


Using Consequences Effectively

Our kids’ feelings are valid, their feelings make sense, and their feelings show up in their behavior. When they don't know what to do with big feelings, sometimes it shows up in off-track behavior. They are responsible for making it right and getting back on track.

Delivering a consequence, or CORRECT, is the final step in the Calm Mama Process. The first three steps set the stage for making sure those consequences are effective.

CALM is all about you. When you practice Calm, you’ll be able to ride out meltdowns and big feeling cycles, communicate clear limits and remain neutral and compassionate with your kid. 

CONNECT is where we help our kids understand what they’re feeling and how it is showing up in their behavior. All behavior is driven by feelings, so when we skip straight to limits and consequences, we’re missing the underlying cause. 

On the one hand, we say, “Your feelings make sense,” and we also let them know, “Your behavior (the way you’re showing those feelings) has an impact that we need to repair.”

LIMITS are the foundation of your consequence - especially with logical consequences. “I’m happy to ________ as long as you _______.” Or, “You’re welcome to _________ as long as _________.” 

When the impact is built into the limit, it is not a surprise to your kid. They make a choice and see how it plays out. 

Finally, in CORRECT, we combine all of the first three steps to show them why their coping strategy didn’t work, the impact of their actions and talk about how they’re going to make it right. Then, we follow through on that plan.


You’re still going to yell sometimes. I want to normalize that. We’re all human. But if you’re doing it because you feel lost and confused about what to do instead, I am here to help. Check out my programs or go back and listen to the previous episodes listed below. 

This week, I want you to just notice if it seems like your kid’s behavior is out of control and they aren’t experiencing any consequences. If you feel lost, ask yourself what impact their behavior is having (i.e. time, money or energy) and how you can bring that impact back to them.


You’ll Learn:

  • Why consequences matter and how you can use them without causing pain and shame
  • The difference between traditional and more gentle parenting approaches
  • How consequences fit into compassionate parenting
  • Examples of natural and logical consequences


Previous Episodes:

Ready to stop yelling?

Get the one simple tool you need to stop yelling at your kids, so you finally feel calmer and connect better. 

You'll learn why you yell, how to stop yourself yelling, 40 things to do instead and scripts for what to say to your kid when you yell.


Connect with Darlynn: