Natural Consequences and a Cheating Mom

I’m a firm believer in natural consequences as a learning tool.

You ignore your alarm or my wake up call? Be frantic or late to school. You forget your PE shoes or instrument? Suffer the consequences set by the teacher. Stubborn about tonight’s supper (even though you ate it fine last time)? A growling tummy once every few months never hurt anyone. I usually manage to let it go, even if it means I have to sit on my hands.

Natural consequences are good for me, too. I don’t get my scheduled work time done early in the day? I’m up too late at night. Then I’m tired in the morning. (vicious cycle, there!) If I don’t blog regularly, the traffic goes elsewhere. If I ignore the housework, I’m uber embarrassed when the doorbell rings.

Miss 10 is super proud of her new room in the basement. It’s the first time she’s had her own, and so far she has taken very good care of it, keeping her bed made and her room tidy.

oilsShe even has an essential oils station set up. Makes a mama’s heart proud. 😉 (And a little brother mad because “She STOLE MY diffuser!”)

Last week my mom and aunt were scheduled to come help me paint and get this house back together after months of upheaval. My aunt hadn’t seen the finished basement yet. I was tidying up before their imminent arrival and discovered that Miss 10, in her rush to get out the door (it was picture day!), forgot to make her bed. First time in weeks, but I knew she’d be embarrassed if grandma and her aunt saw it that way.

bedSo I made it for her.

Natural consequences are a good thing.

Reminding my daughter I’m on her side? Seeing the devastated shock on her face turn to happy relief when I told her what happened? Sharing a “you’re growing up, you’re doing a fantastic job, and I’m growing with you” moment? That’s a Finer Thing.

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  1. Yay for making beds! We’re still struggling with that.

  2. Okay that’s a great size diffuser – not too big!! Where did you get it and can I get one through your link?? 🙂 Thanks Amy – I’m usually a lurker from east Kansas but congrats on so much going on in your life right now!!!

  3. I love natural consequences, too bad there are none for my kids if they don’t do their homework. The teacher just tells them to try harder next time. (They are only in 4th and 2nd grades, but still)

    • Oh, man! That’s not helping you out!

    • For my kids, the homework expectation is that you do it before you get any tv/screen time. Not doing homework = no tv/screen time. That was the “natural consequence” of not following the family expectations.

      When they were younger, right after school they had a snack and about 30-45 min of nonscreen free time before starting their homework. This routine has always worked great for my 5 (now 30, 27, 22, 17 & almost 16). My high schoolers now come home, get a snack and get going on homework without any prodding from me.

  4. Amen! To all of it.

  5. wow- what a great reminder- “I’m on your side”… whew! I’m 100% with you on the natural consequences AND stopping to think when it would be better to “cheat” a little, too!!
    thanks for sharing this, Amy 🙂

  6. I love this story. And I totally agree. What a great way to help continue to build that trust. 🙂

  7. That is a “Finer Thing”! Thanks for sharing this great parenting moment…and reminding us that it’s okay to “cheat” sometimes. 🙂

  8. love, love, love!!

  9. I think this is a nice reminder that we are often bombarded by both positive and negative “natural” consequences. Sure, the natural consequence COULD be that you’re embarrassed when your room is messy. But also, the natural consequence of being a hard working child/person is that people are willing to help you out when things fall through the cracks from time to time. The natural consequence of being part of a big family/community and contributing and helping others is that others will do the same for you.

    I love that your story illustrates that we not only shape out the negative behaviors, but also shape in the positive ones.


    • Yes, Beth! Great thoughts. I usually think of natural consequences in terms of the negative, but there ARE positive consequences, for sure, and we need to highlight those!

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