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#1 of 26 Old 05-17-2010, 05:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I've never posted here before but I've been reading the GD board for a few years now and it has really helped me out.

I had an incident with DS (7) on Friday and I'm not sure that the choice I made was the right one, or if I had any other better options. Just wondering what you would have done.

So, I drove to the school with younger dd's (2 and 4) to pick up DS and DD (8). One of my kids' friends recently had a birthday and one of her friends brought her a present at school. She stopped to show it to us and was really excited about it. It was a Bakugan 3 pack and of course my son was totally jealous. He stalked off and sulked behind a plant. Older DD, the friend and I all reminded him that he'd be going to her birthday party, and she said she'd share her game tokens with him and her cake. We also reminded him that he got some really cool presents on his birthday as well, but he continued to sulk, glare at us, etc. We told the friend bye and started walking to the van. Well, DS was so mad he refused to come with us. I said "Come on! We're going!" a few times and continued to walk to the van. I got all the way to the van and he had hardly moved. I yelled (because he was pretty far away) "Come on!" and he just stood there with his arms crossed, glaring at me. The girls and I got in and I started up the van. I thought he would see that we were serious and finally get his bottom over to the van. Well, he did...he ran over, threw a paper in the van, slammed the door and ran off! He ran back to the school and I yelled "We're leaving!" He stood there, with his arms crossed and shook his head. I asked him if he wanted to walk home and he didn't shake or nod his head, but turned around and continued walking back to the school. He had never walked home alone before, but he did that day. I drove off and left him there!
About 30 minutes later he had not returned home, so we all got in the van and found him making his way slowly up the street. We picked him up and he was much better.
Important details: It's about a 10 minute walk from school to our house. We live on a military base so I feel like our neighborhood is very safe; a lot of kids his age walk home. He only had to cross 2 small streets to get home.
DS is pretty explosive, prone to tantrums and very emotional, which is part of the reason why I decided to just let him be.
What would you have done???
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#2 of 26 Old 05-17-2010, 05:18 PM
 
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If I have affirmed dd's feelings and she still is set on showing them dramatically I let my her go off somewhere and pout while I focused on having fun. If pouting is still going on when it is time to go or if dd is too disruptive in her pouting because she is trying to get attention I typically hold her hand first and then tell her it is time to go or tell her that she needs to go outside until she is done pouting. This prevents the running off and the need to argue or threats that I wouldn't follow through with and she will almost always decide to stop the show and return to normal very quickly.

If you are fine with him walking home then I think you should offer him the choice of coming and having a ride or walking home and give him a minute to decide. That should probably be something you set up ahead of time though rather than on the spot. If he just needs to walk and it is safe for him to do so then I see no reason why that can't be something he is allowed to choose to do.
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#3 of 26 Old 05-17-2010, 08:34 PM
 
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The title of this thread is "Natural Consequence", but I wanted to point out that this was not a natural consequence, but a punishment in disguise. A natural consequence is when your child refuses to wear shoes to walk to the car in the snow (her feet will get very cold), or to put on a jacket when it's pouring rain out (her clothes will get wet).

That said, I agree with One_Girl. I would have affirmed his feelings, then given him the choice to come with us, or walk home. What I would not have done (and I'm not saying that you did either), was gotten upset with him for his attitude, or leave him to deal with his emotions on his own.

It's not easy to deal with explosive emotional kids.
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#4 of 26 Old 05-17-2010, 08:58 PM
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Given the circumstances you describe - safe environment, tantrum in an older child - I would have done what you did.

I think you might have been able to cut the show short by offering walking home as an option. That's a good option to keep in mind for next time.

Sgmom, your post made me wonder, what is the natural consequence for this kind of behavior?
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#5 of 26 Old 05-17-2010, 10:11 PM
 
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Originally Posted by sgmom View Post
The title of this thread is "Natural Consequence", but I wanted to point out that this was not a natural consequence, but a punishment in disguise. A natural consequence is when your child refuses to wear shoes to walk to the car in the snow (her feet will get very cold), or to put on a jacket when it's pouring rain out (her clothes will get wet).
Walking home may not have been a "natural consequence" (although, if it's not, I too wonder what a natural consequence would be), but it seems pretty safe under the circumstances. A healthy and appropriately dressed child can easily walk for ten minutes in good weather. Under better circumstances, it's even fun.

The examples you give here of natural consequences are not things I would feel okay about letting happen. Particularly bare feet in the snow.

IRT the OP's situation, I think offering him the option of walking is as good as it gets.
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#6 of 26 Old 05-17-2010, 11:01 PM
 
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The examples you give here of natural consequences are not things I would feel okay about letting happen. Particularly bare feet in the snow.

IRT the OP's situation, I think offering him the option of walking is as good as it gets.
Yes, I agree with your post. We're not sure OP offered the walk or if he just ended up walking because the car was gone.
OP, I like that you reminded him that he got wonderful toys for his birthday so he remembers that he too got special gifts, that he is special too.
Either way I think you did the right thing. In the future you can just mention to him that he has a choice rather than making the choice for him?
Nicely done though.
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#7 of 26 Old 05-17-2010, 11:01 PM
 
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Anytime we interfere with a consequence to teach a lesson, that consequence is no longer natural, and often becomes a punishment.

There's a good article here that explains what a natural consequence is.
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#8 of 26 Old 05-17-2010, 11:08 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Laur318 View Post
OP, I like that you reminded him that he got wonderful toys for his birthday so he remembers that he too got special gifts, that he is special too.
While it's great that he was reminded that he too got special gifts on his birthday, his upset had nothing to do with his birthday (and all the cool gifts he received). Furthermore, his reasons for being upset NOW were never validated. It's possible that he felt angry because no one took the time to say "I understand why you're upset", or "Are you upset because". Even asking "What can I do to help you feel better" might have resulted in him blurting out exactly why he was upset, and it could have been resolved it from there. Maybe all he needed was to be heard (and sympathized with).

OP: I'm not saying that what you did was wrong (nor do I think that, for the record). And instead of telling you what *I* would have done (because that's really not important), I can only try to help you see things from a different (maybe his) perspective.
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#9 of 26 Old 05-17-2010, 11:11 PM
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I think it's more a logical consequence. Though refusing to get in a car would have a natural consequence of not riding in the car right then. Many of the possible alternatives to your DS being left alone to walk home are more confrontational and coercive. From the change in his mood when you picked him up it does seem he really needed some time alone to deal with his feelings. Walking is a good activity for thinking and dealing with strong emotions. I also don't see what you did as a punishment. You didn't make an angry child get into your car when he obviously didn't want to. You also gave a person space when he was acting like he wanted it.

Most natural consequences are too harsh to allow then to happen to your children. I often talk about the natural consequences of various behaviors to try to help my 4 year old make good choices, but I wouldn't just sit back and watch them happen.
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#10 of 26 Old 05-17-2010, 11:25 PM
 
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Originally Posted by sgmom View Post
Anytime we interfere with a consequence to teach a lesson, that consequence is no longer natural, and often becomes a punishment.

There's a good article here that explains what a natural consequence is.
Sorry, but the article seems to be arguing that there should, in fact, be no consequences at all. Kid refuses to wear a coat? Pack one for later in case s/he changes his mind. Kid leaves toys outside? Lovingly bring them in. All very nice ideas for family living, and I'm not a fan of leaving toys to rust myself, but as a parent, it is in fact sometimes my job to teach a lesson instead of letting the natural consequence of everything my kids take into their heads to do run its potentially awful course.
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#11 of 26 Old 05-17-2010, 11:35 PM
 
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Originally Posted by MeepyCat View Post
Sorry, but the article seems to be arguing that there should, in fact, be no consequences at all. Kid refuses to wear a coat? Pack one for later in case s/he changes his mind. Kid leaves toys outside? Lovingly bring them in. All very nice ideas for family living, and I'm not a fan of leaving toys to rust myself, but as a parent, it is in fact sometimes my job to teach a lesson instead of letting the natural consequence of everything my kids take into their heads to do run its potentially awful course.
It's not saying there should be no consequence. I think you either misread, or you're reading too much (or not enough) into it. It's not about what we do or should do. It's about what a natural consequence IS. Leave stuff outside in the rain, chances are it'll get ruined. It's not suggesting that we do that (although it has to compare it, so we understand the difference between natural consequence and punishment). It's what happens when no one interferes.

I would also never leave my kids bike (as an example) in the rain, but I would explain what would happen (rust) if they didn't learn to remember to do it themselves. And if it happened that they started to get lazy about bringing it in because they think "I can leave it outside because mom will get it for me", then a LOGICAL consequence (as an example) would be to not allow them to ride it. Similar to the "wear your helmet" example in the link. Allowing them to NOT wear one one would plain and simply be endangering the safety of our children. And allowing them to fall off the bike and bash their heads (while still a natural consequence), is not something most parents are willing to do. And so a logical one (remove the bike) takes it's place.

Teaching a lesson becomes logical, not natural. THAT is my point.

Edited to add: I quote liked the example given about the child not wanting to wear a jacket in the cold.

Leave it at home, to teach a lesson when the child gets cold later = punishment.
Bringing the coat out with you to give to the child later (after the child learns, via natural consequence, that he/she WILL get cold without the jacket) = loving supportive parent.

If my kid didn't want to wear a jacket (no matter how cold outside), I wouldn't force it. And I would absolutely bring it with me to leave in the car.
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#12 of 26 Old 05-17-2010, 11:41 PM
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While it's great that he was reminded that he too got special gifts on his birthday, his upset had nothing to do with his birthday (and all the cool gifts he received). Furthermore, his reasons for being upset NOW were never validated. It's possible that he felt angry because no one took the time to say "I understand why you're upset", or "Are you upset because". Even asking "What can I do to help you feel better" might have resulted in him blurting out exactly why he was upset, and it could have been resolved it from there. Maybe all he needed was to be heard (and sympathized with).
I've worked with several populations of children in a diverse range of circumstances, and I think of myself as taking a gentle approach to my own children. I will (and do) provide a million kinds of respectful sympathy when my children are in need of it, or when they use age-appropriate social skills to request it. For my kids, asking "What can I do to help you feel better," when they were refusing to get in the car to go home, would have reinforced behavior that is highly inappropriate in an 8 year old. It might have resolved the situation, but it might also have prolonged it.

In my experience, sometimes everyone needs to be (gently) told to get over themselves.
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#13 of 26 Old 05-17-2010, 11:45 PM
 
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stik: I COMPLETELY agree. But like I said, it's not about what I would do. What I would do with my own children, may not be what I would suggest that you do with yours.
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#14 of 26 Old 05-23-2010, 04:59 PM
 
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I will have to be the odd one out and say I see absolutely nothing wrong with what the original poster did. She gave her son every opportunity to get a ride home and he refused every option. She did ask him if he wanted to walk and by turning around and walking toward the school he made the choice that he did not want a ride.

He was simply having a tantrum and though he might have benefited from a brief affirmation like 'i understand, we all see things we want and cannot have.' I cannot see making everyone else sit in the car and wait for him to decide that he might be ready to have a ride home. (which could take an hour of pouting if left up to an 8 year old!), nor can I see trying to force him.

So, I think she made a good choice, went back to check on him (and give him a ride, that *gasp* he now accepted) Plus he got some alone time to sort his feelings, some endorphins from exercise to improve his mood and probably learned from the experience. I do think this is a natural consequence at play, if ever there was one. If you refuse a ride the only natural option is to walk.

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#15 of 26 Old 05-23-2010, 05:46 PM
 
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Anytime we interfere with a consequence to teach a lesson, that consequence is no longer natural, and often becomes a punishment.

There's a good article here that explains what a natural consequence is.
This seems contradictory to me. In each of the examples the the author gave she does interfere with a natural consequence.
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#16 of 26 Old 05-23-2010, 07:04 PM
 
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This seems contradictory to me. In each of the examples the the author gave she does interfere with a natural consequence.
... Of course she does. I would find it rather difficult to explain what something isn't if you don't know what it is in the first place...

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So, I think she made a good choice, went back to check on him (and give him a ride, that *gasp* he now accepted) Plus he got some alone time to sort his feelings, some endorphins from exercise to improve his mood and probably learned from the experience.
If it works for your child (and is of course safe), how can what you did be wrong? Some kids DO need the time to be left alone to sort out their feelings. I still think he should have been offered the choice, but the end result is that he probably did learn from the experience, and it did seem to improve his mood.

Win.
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#17 of 26 Old 05-24-2010, 02:57 PM
 
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... Of course she does. I would find it rather difficult to explain what something isn't if you don't know what it is in the first place...



If it works for your child (and is of course safe), how can what you did be wrong? Some kids DO need the time to be left alone to sort out their feelings. I still think he should have been offered the choice, but the end result is that he probably did learn from the experience, and it did seem to improve his mood.

Win.
OP, Sorry if I am hijacking. I am confused by the link that sgmom added. I would agree that having your son walk home was not a natural consequence but I also think it was fine and worked for you and your family. I don't agree that what is described in the link are natural consequences. "If my child left something outside that would be better off indoors, I would bring it in for her. The natural consequence of that is that my children feel loved." I think it could be argued that the natural consequence of that would be my child would expect me to take care of their things rather then them learning to take care of them theirselves. She was talking about a 10 year old in that example. I feel like by her logic if my child falls down and I don't catch them I am punishing them with gravity.
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#18 of 26 Old 05-25-2010, 03:04 AM
 
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In response to sgmom's link:

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Originally Posted by kalimay View Post
This seems contradictory to me. In each of the examples the the author gave she does interfere with a natural consequence.
I got this same impression. If anyone would like to helpfully explain how it's not contradictory, I'd be glad to listen.

As for the OP, I think you did the right thing. I don't know whether it was a natural or logical consequence as I'm a bit unlcear on what those terms mean (as my confusion re: the link above shows ). And I also agree that sometimes it's a parent's job to teach their child lessons about life and appropriate behavior and consequences, etc.

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#19 of 26 Old 05-25-2010, 06:19 AM
 
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on the article the auther is saying that if you choose to the leave the coat behind as a parent you are choosing for the consequence of your child probably getting cold when you are out thus you are choosing a not natural consequense.
natural consequences are those things that happen without thinking about it. you are running but trip and fall the consequence would probably be a scraped knee no one planned it thus is is natural.
if my sons leaves out a toy and I choose to not remind him or pick it up for him then I am choosing a consequence.it is not loving or caring.I wouldn't do it to my husband why would I do it to my child?

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#20 of 26 Old 05-25-2010, 09:14 AM
 
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My understanding is that Alfie Kohn says that natural consequences can be punishing if you allow things to happen that you could have stopped, as in if it's cold and your child doesn't want a coat and you don't bring one. If you stop to think, "I know he's going to want a coat, but I won't bring one and when he's cold all day, that'll teach him" then it's punishing even if it's a natural consequence. I don't think he's saying it isn't a natural consequence, just that by intentionally standing by and watching something unpleasant happen, that natural consequence becomes a punishment.

If you don't intentionally allow it to happen, like say that you thought your child brought a coat, or if it hadn't occurred to you that it would be cold, you'd most likely behave differently when the child got cold. Like, "Let's see if there's a blanket or something warm in the car you can wrap over yourself." But if you intentionally didn't bring a coat because you want the experience of being cold to become a teaching experience (ie a negative consequence intended to teach - a punishment), then you would probably say, "That's what happens when it's cold out. I told you to bring a coat. Maybe next time you'll listen to me." Or something like that.

So as far as not catching a child who falls being punishing them with gravity, I'd say that if the child left something out that you thought he'd probably trip over and fall, and you didn't pick it up because you thought tripping over it and falling would teach him to pick up his stuff, and then he indeed did trip over it and fall, then yes you'd be punishing with gravity. Or even if you hadn't noticed ahead of time and he fell and instead of helping and empathizing you said, "You should learn to pick your stuff up and you won't trip over things. Maybe this will teach you to pick up after yourself." If you empathized and helped, AND talked about how picking up might help keep that kind of thing from happening in a non-accusatory way, that would not sound like a punishment to me. But I can see how it could be used as one. I think that a large part of what makes something a punishment is whether the child feels punished, and part of it is also the parent's intention, so it would depend on the specifics.
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#21 of 26 Old 05-25-2010, 10:45 AM
 
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Thanks Mamazee. Your explanation clarified using natural consequences as punishment for me. I think because the author in the link was calling her interruption of what was happening the natural consequences it was confusing to me. I think there is a line in there somewhere that will probably be defined individually. I think by allowing my kids to experience some possibly negative effects of natural consequences I may just be letting them learn without the intent of punishing them. I guess because I don't think things have to always be easy for them. All of the examples would be totally age and kid dependent too.
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#22 of 26 Old 05-25-2010, 11:13 AM
 
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mamazee I understood the link perfectly (with the exception of the comment of a natural consequence being that the child would feel loved), but thank you for rewording.

But this thread isn't about what a natural consequence is or isn't. I only brought it up because it's the title of this thread, and what the OP did was to teach a lesson, and that's not a natural consequence (no matter how you interpret it). Whether it was the "right" thing to do or not, isn't applicable. I don't believe there is a right or wrong... only what is healthy (or what is not) to the child.
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#23 of 26 Old 05-25-2010, 12:18 PM
 
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Originally Posted by kalimay View Post
Thanks Mamazee. Your explanation clarified using natural consequences as punishment for me. I think because the author in the link was calling her interruption of what was happening the natural consequences it was confusing to me. I think there is a line in there somewhere that will probably be defined individually. I think by allowing my kids to experience some possibly negative effects of natural consequences I may just be letting them learn without the intent of punishing them. I guess because I don't think things have to always be easy for them. All of the examples would be totally age and kid dependent too.
The issue for me isn't whether things have to be easy for them, but what benefit there is to things being difficult. I agree with Kohn's assertion that punishment doesn't teach what we intend it to teach, and therefore I don't see a benefit to allowing negative consequences to happen. I know my kids can handle it if bad things happen, and bad things will happen no matter what. I just hope that I will be the soft spot to land when bad things happen rather than the one who creates (or doesn't help to take away) their difficulties.
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#24 of 26 Old 05-25-2010, 12:21 PM
 
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mamazee I understood the link perfectly (with the exception of the comment of a natural consequence being that the child would feel loved), but thank you for rewording.

But this thread isn't about what a natural consequence is or isn't. I only brought it up because it's the title of this thread, and what the OP did was to teach a lesson, and that's not a natural consequence (no matter how you interpret it). Whether it was the "right" thing to do or not, isn't applicable. I don't believe there is a right or wrong... only what is healthy (or what is not) to the child.
I agree with you. I just found that part of the conversation to be the most interesting. Particularly the part where someone said that if a child falls and you don't catch them, that you're punishing them with gravity. That was a very well worded statement and an interesting thought for me to roll around my head.
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#25 of 26 Old 05-27-2010, 07:47 AM
 
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Instead of reminding him about what he will do/already has, reaffirming his feelings at that point may have diffused the anger a bit. I've read that in a couple different GD books, saying something like "it's hard to see someone else get something you really like" or giving him a name for his feelings (jealousy). I see nothing wrong with him walking home if that's what he prefers.

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#26 of 26 Old 05-30-2010, 02:09 PM
 
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wow you sound like a phenonimal mother I wish we could all be as perfect as you. I only pray for the insight to make choices as well as you do when it comes to my children.
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