Okay. I so totally believe in natural consequences and for all of my son's nearly 6 years, we've done maybe two time outs, while the rest of discipline has been heavily influenced by positive discipline, natural consequences ideas (in intent, if not always in practice). Mostly, we have a pretty okay set of structures, routines, lots of play, healthy limits, etc. I don't feel like we have any huge over-arching discipline issues. But.
But somehow, I've noticed in myself that I have allowed myself to get into a really yucky dynamic with my son. I nag. I nag and he doesn't listen. And it is driving me totally crazy. Mostly, its about morning-before-school routines or getting-to-bed routines. He is an amazing kid ... gets very lost in his own play, projects, etc. and I do believe that a lot of the time, he truly doesn't "hear" me or is too engrossed to fully register. But too, I believe that he has come to rely on my nagging ... knowing that I don't actually mean it "the first time." Yucky yucky yucky. I never imagined I'd be in that spot of saying, "I've asked you five times ..." -- I always imagined myself the parent who could say it once, enforce it consistently and that would be that.
So ... I do believe that the way to stop is to actually "mean it" the first time. And to tell him there will be shift in rules and it'll feel different for a while until we both get used to it. But I'm finding it really hard to allow figure out the appropriate natural consequence and then, to allow them to speak for themselves.
For example -- tonight (like many many nights), as the kids were getting ready for bed (our kids sleep in the same double futon and when I'm alone with the kids, we read stories together instead of one with e/parent), I told my son to get his pajamas on. 10 minutes later, he's still in his clothes, picking at his toes, pretending his arms are an airplane, lying on his bed tossing a pillow, whatever -- it could be anything. As I usually do, I said more sternly, "Pajamas!" He looks at me -- makes a half-hearted gesture towards them while I'm in the doorway. 3 minutes later I check in ... shorts are off and he's frittering his time. I say, "Elijah, I do not like that you are not listening. I said, pajamas!"
So ... finally, I gave him an ultimatum (after this went on at least one more round) ... "if your pajamas aren't on by 9:10, then we won't have stories." Ugg. I love story time. He loves stories. I don't like to use that in any punishing way.
But ... so, on this example, would this be what you'd do: "pajamas on by X time and whoever is ready, will have stories?" Then how would you enforce it? Lets say I did that and he came out of the room and tried to listen? It just starts feeling so mean ... do I then get into a battle of him not staying in his room while I read to his mostly compliant-on-getting-to-bed-issues three year old sister?
And this example could be anything ... coming up for breakfast, leaving the house to go to the park, etc. He is SUCH the dawdler.