Hiding behind natural consequences
What it is
Lying about your role in the mistake your child made. It’s also known as weaseling out of something to avoid blame. Parents cop-out when they hide behind tough love and natural consequences.
The natural benefit directly received by a kid because of something she did or didn’t do.
Remembers homework – Good Grade
Forgets homework – Gets a Zero
Natural consequences are not to be confused with logical consequences. I’ll cover that one in a future Tip of the Week.
Why it’s important
Accountability requires courage. Without interference from outside forces, natural consequences prove to your child that he has power over cause and effect. A lot of seemingly credible people are telling—and selling—parents on the beauty of natural consequences.
I’m in agreement, by the way, but . . .
Allowing natural consequences to teach your child only works if you’ve taught your child how use the power of choice to either create or avoid a consequence.
- Yes, your child should be responsible to remember his homework.
- Yes, feeling the sting from a bad choice, aka the zero in the grade book, is a great thing.
- No, your child isn’t accountable for the zero if you’ve always reminded him, but just forgot one day.
You are accountable for that zero because, based on the usual way of things, it was reasonable for your child to expect you to remember for her.
When you suddenly abandon your accountability
Your child feels abandoned
Sure, you’ve told her to remember her homework, but until you transition her into accountability, she isn’t really accountable.
Acknowledge your humanness.
Yes, even you forget things from time-to-time.
Absolve your child of responsibility, even if it means you have to phone the teacher and take the blame.
Parent to Child: We share the responsibility for the homework because I know that you rely on me to help you remember. I think it’s time we start handing these kinds of things over to you; I’m obviously not going to be completely reliable anymore.
Turn it Over
The Morning Peacemaker Method is a terrific way to transition your child from depending upon you to being independent.
Your Natural Consequences
When you step up to take the heat, your child sees that you’re on her team even when it’s uncomfortable. Remember, to your child, that zero is a big deal.
Watching you acknowledge your perfection (to err is perfectly human) makes it easier for your child to risk a mistake.
Mistakes are very important!
Without his willingness to risk making mistakes, he won’t be able to learn from natural consequences.
Sharing the responsibility for a mistake starts the independence conversation.
To your child, your selflessness is an act of loyalty. You’ve proven that she is more important than the mistake. She will listen when you talk.
We promise to instill certain values, like honesty and reliability. By demonstrating these values in action even when it stings, you’re showing him how to face problems without losing his integrity. Congratulations! You’re making good on your promise.
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