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PATHFINDER Parenting:

Tools for Raising Responsible Children
By: James J. Messina, Ph.D.
F - Formulating Behavioral Consequences to 
Encourage Personal Responsibility in Children
Introduction to Natural and Logical Consequences

Pathfinders track the natural and logical behavioral consequences of their children's behaviors so as to encourage them to become personally responsible for their own lives. Pathfinders begin this tracking from birth and continue on into their children's adulthood. Pathfinders parent their children using principles listed in P-Pathfinder Parenting Principles. They activate their children's self-esteem utilizing the developmental parenting tasks over the life span as outlined in A-Activating Self-Esteeem. They formulate structures and policies as outlined in T-Tracking Structurers. They hug their children establishing lifelong bonding as outlined in H-Hugging for Bonding. The use of natural and logical consequences as a response to their behaviors, encourages them to take notice much earlier and more dramatically. The earlier they learn the impact of their behaviors on themselves the earlier they can learn to modify them and become more personally responsible for their own outcomes. This does not take away from the self-esteem and bonding efforts of parents but rather enhances them.

 

The use of natural and logical consequences is a thinking person's method of parenting. The goal of this approach is to eliminate all screaming, yelling, ranting, and raving to get children's attention to the adverse impact of their negative behaviors. Instead, this model puts the onus or burden on the children to recognize for themselves the impact of their own behaviors on themselves. The end result of implementing this model, along with the structuring outlined in T-Tracking Structures, is to assist parents to do less direct disciplining, behavioral management, or over-parenting. Once the consequences are recognized, agreed to, outlined, and recorded, all parents need to do is remind children of the consequence if a negative behavior should occur. Pathfinders then watch to see that the children experience the designated consequence prescribed. This takes time investment initially to identify natural consequences, develop logical consequences, and record these for the myriad behaviors children exhibit. There is a need to modify the list as children grow older, circumstances change, and developmental needs differ. Pathfinders utilize the family meetings outlined in T-Tracking Structures to work out changed behavioral consequences with their children.

 

A natural consequence of a behavior is what happens naturally once it is exhibited. Most of the behaviors which children engage in can be modified by allowing them to experience the natural consequences. The modifications result from children realizing the negative impact to themselves of the natural consequence for their behaviors. If the natural consequence is aversive enough to children they will be intrinsically motivated to modify their behaviors in the future to avoid the consequence. If the natural consequence is not aversive enough or if it is too dangerous to children's welfare, and if it would take too long to take effect, then Pathfinders develop logical consequences. The same goal of helping children to be intrinsically motivated to avoid engaging in unacceptable behaviors underlies the use of logical consequences. Logical consequences are best when they are directly related to the behaviors in question and closely approximate the natural consequences as possible.

 

The notion of requiring children to accept the consequences for their own behaviors is at the root of Pathfinders' desires to let go of the need to control the outcomes for their children.

The monitoring and tracking of consequences requires that parents have a documented listing of consequences for all desired behaviors they wish their children to acquire. This is best handled by recording them in the policy manual outlined in T-Tracking Structures. The policy manual then would not only list the agreed upon expectations of the parents for children's behaviors but also would include the natural and logical consequences if those desired behaviors were not exhibited. This provides both children and parents with a document to refer to on a regular basis to remind them of what the desired outcomes are and what the consequences would be if they do not occur.

How to use the natural and logical consequences model of Pathfinder Parenting

Parents who decide to use the natural and logical consequences model of Pathfinder Parenting have major adjustments to make in their thinking, feelings, and behaviors. They must alter their views of discipline and child management. The use of the consequences model is a form of parent management which requires them to think things out in advance based on the natural outcomes of human behavior. This form of parenting requires that parents place the control for their children's outcomes into their children's hands. The natural consequences for behaviors are not always immediately obvious. It takes time to recognize them. There are not always natural consequences which parents will want their children to experience. For these they will develop logical consequences. Deciding on logical consequences for behaviors for which natural consequences do not exist is a difficult task. Parents who are prone to use guilt and manipulation to get children to conform, have a difficult time in adjusting to the natural and logical consequence model. Parents who have quick tempers and/or use intimidation to get children to conform find the change to the natural and logical consequence model a major adjustment in thinking and reacting. 


Here are some rules for using the natural and logical consequences model of parenting.

  1. Never use guilt as a natural or logical consequence to get children to conform to desired behaviors (e.g. do not use: "I would be so disappointed if you did...").
  2. Never use the existence of natural or logical consequences as tools of intimidation to get children to change behaviors (e.g. do not use: "You better not do this or else the following will happen to you...").
  3. Never use natural or logical consequences as tools of manipulation to get children to do as you wish (e.g. do not use: "If you didn't do it, then this wouldn't have happened to you...").
  4. Never use natural or logical consequences as "get backs" to make children sorry that they did not do as you wanted them to (e.g. do not use: "I'll teach you by this consequence to never do what I do not want you to do ...").
  5. Never use natural or logical consequences as punishment for doing bad {e.g. do not use: "You have been a bad kid and this consequence will be punishment for what you have done...").
  6. Never make logical consequences too different from the natural consequence for the behavior (e.g. do not use: "I don't care what you did. What I do care about is that this is what you are going to have happen to you for doing it...").
  7. Never use a logical consequence when a natural consequence exists and it is safe for children to experience (e.g. do not use: "I don't care what the natural consequence is I want you to experience the following instead...").
  8. Never use a natural consequence when the health and safety of children would be put at risk (e.g. do not use: "If you run out into the road, you might get hit by a car and die, so just go ahead and try it...").
  9. Never use a natural consequence when it would take too much time for the consequence to actually occur (e.g. do not use: "You will get a respiratory problem from smoking when you grow older so it's your choice if you smoke or not now...").
  10. Never promise to use natural or logical consequences and then revert to an older form of discipline which will confuse your children as to what are logical consequences (e.g. do not use: "I know I promised you that if you did that behavior that this would happen to you, but I am so mad that I am going to give you a spanking instead...").
  11. Always be consistent in your use of natural and logical consequences (e.g. do use: "You have done the following behaviors and the natural or logical consequence for that behavior which was pointed out to your earlier are...").
  12. Always spell out the natural and logical consequences clearly so that your children fully understand them and then record them in your family journal so that you have a permanent record of them (e.g. do use: "These are the natural and logical consequences and they are now recorded in our family journal so that we can be reminded what they are if we ever need them...").
  13. Always warn your children in advance as much as you can of what the natural or logical consequences will be for behaviors so that you are not placed into a position to come up with a logical consequence after the fact. This helps the children recognize that natural or logical consequences for their actions are their choice and not just another form of discipline for unacceptable behaviors (e.g. do use: "You now know what the consequences for those actions are, so it is now your choice to do them or not.,.").
  14. Always be positive when using natural and logical consequences and do not revert to old form with temper or angry outbursts when your children's behaviors do not please you (e.g. do use with no ranting, raving, yelling or screaming: " You did the following and the consequence for that is ...").
  15. Always explain fully the natural or logical consequences in detail, so as not to leave your children in question as to their duration, intensity and directions (e.g. do use: "Now that you understand the full impact of the consequences for those possible actions, it is your choice to do them or not...").
  16. Always make sure natural and logical consequences result in an immediate response which does not extend over a prolonged period of time during which children can lose sight of why they are experiencing the consequences (e.g. do use: "You will experience this consequence immediately for what you have just done and you can decide for yourself if it was worth doing what you did...").
  17. Always remind children that they are free to choose their own behaviors as long as they are ready to accept the natural and logical consequences of their behaviors (e.g. do use: "You are free to do what you want to do now that you know what will happen if you chose to do those behaviors...").
  18. Always remind children that they are responsible for their own behaviors which resulted in a natural or logical consequence and that you will not accept their blaming others for their choices (e.g. do use: "You did what you did and you can not point the finger of blame to other people, for this reason you will need to accept the following consequence...").
  19. Always remind yourself and your children that the goal of natural and logical consequences is to assist them to accept responsibility for their own lives so that they can grow up into self-sufficient, independent adults with healthy self-esteem (e.g. do use: "You will benefit from the use of these consequences because they will help you to become responsible for your own life...").
  20. Always let others in your children's lives know that you practice the Pathfinder Parenting model of natural and logical consequences so that they can use the same model with them in the various settings your children are involved in (e.g. do use: "In our home, my children are used to the natural and logical consequence model so that they can learn to be personally responsible for their own lives and I would prefer for you to use the same model with them...").
 

Developing natural and logical consequences exercise

Directions: In this exercise, you will decide consequences for getting chores done. In this exercise read each of the consequences listed under each chore and put N in front of the consequence if you believe it to be a natural consequence and put L in front of the consequence if you believe it to be a logical consequence. Put NEITHER in front of the consequence if you think it is inappropriate and it fits more into the punishment mode of discipline. The answer key appears at the end of this section. The answer Key is at the end of this unit.


1.0. Pick up personal items in private room

1.1. If you don't pick up your room, then I will pick it up myself and I may just get rid of everything which I find on the floor.

1.2. If you don't pick up your room, then I will keep the door closed so that no one will see it.

1.3. If you don't pick up your room, then I will take a quarter each day this week from your allowance it isn't cleaned up.

1.4. If you don't pick up your room, then I will give you a spanking each day I find it a mess.

2.0. Pick up personal items in public rooms

2.1. If you don't pick up your things in the public rooms by the time you go to bed, then you will most probably not find them the next morning because, then I will throw them away.

2.2. If you don't pick up your things in the public rooms, then I will make you pick them up before you go to bed.

2.3. If you don't pick up your things in the public rooms, then I will yell and nag at you until you get it done.

2.4. If you don't pick up your things in the public rooms, then I will pick them up because they bother me. I will throw them onto the floor in your private floor.

3.0. Keep your room neat and picked up.

3.1. If you do not keep your room neat and picked up, then it will become such a mess that you will find it hard to live in there.

3.2. If you do not keep your room neat and picked up, then I will not enter it until it is cleaned and, then I will remind you daily that it is a mess until you get it cleaned.

3.3. If you do not keep your room neat and picked up, then I will write notices and put them on your door to remind you to get it cleaned up.

3.4. If you do not keep your room neat and picked up, then I will deduct $1.00 each day from your allowance until it gets cleaned up.

4.0. Pick up your dirty clothes and put them into the dirty clothes hamper.

4.1. If you do not put your dirty clothes into the laundry hamper, then you will not have clean clothes to wear when you need them.

4.2. If you do not put your dirty clothes into the laundry basket on time for me to wash them, then you will have to do your laundry on your own if you want them cleaned this week.

4.3. If you do not pick up your dirty clothes, then I will, but I can't promise that they won't all be bleached since I am doing whites today.

4.4. If you do not pick up your dirty clothes on the floor, then your room will begin to stink and you will suffer a lack of clean clothes and room stench.

5.0. Put clean clothes away in your own room.

5.1. If you don't put your clean clothes away in your room, then you won't be able to find them when you need them.

5.2. If you don't put your clean clothes away in your room, then I won't wash your clothes anymore since it seems like I am cleaning your clean clothes over and over.

5.3. If you do not put your clean clothes away after they are folded and ironed, then they will get messy and unpresentable.

5.4. If you do not put your clean clothes away in your room, then I will. But, I might not put them where you will be able to find them.

6.0. Set table for dinner and clean table after dinner.

6.1. If you do not set the table, then we won't have the utensils to eat with and we will not allow you to eat with us.

6.2. If you refuse to clean up the table and kitchen after the meal then you will not be allowed to eat the next meal.

6.3. If you don't help out before or after dinner, then you will be sent to your room for the next week until you apologize and write a 1000 word essay on why it is important to help the family out.

6.4. If do you do not assist us to get ready to eat or clean up after eating, then you will be not be participating as a member of our family and we will have to discuss at our next family meeting what steps we need to take to encourage your participation in this family.

7.0. Doing all the rest of the household chores listed

7.1. If you do not do this specific chore, then you will find $.50 deducted each day from your allowance.

7.2. If you do not do this chore, then you will not get paid for it.

7.3. If you do not do this chore, then I will do it for youyou. But, then I will nag and complain about doing it and never let you forget that I did it for you.

7.4. If you do not do this chore to my satisfaction, then I will yell and scream until it is done to my satisfaction.

7.5. If you do not do this chore to my satisfaction, then I will expect you to get it done to my satisfaction before you can do anything else today.

7.6. If you do not get all of your chores done before Thursday night bedtime, then you will not be allowed to do anything this weekend until they get done.

7.7. If you do not get all your chores done by Saturday noon, then you will not receive your allowance for the week which is handed out at noon on Saturday.

7.8. If you do not get all your chores done today, then we will make you stay up and get them completed before you go to bed tonight.

7.9. If you do not get the chores done which are assigned to you, then we will let other family members do them and receive the portion of the allowance you usually receive for doing them.

7.10. If you do not do your chores, then we will hound you until you get them done.

7.11. If you do not do your chores, then we will give you one smack on the butt for each chore and each day the chore was not done.

7.12. If you do not do a specific chore, then you will lose the specific privilege earned for doing it as decided upon in our family meeting.

7.13. If you do not do your chores, then we will embarrass you by telling your teachers and/or coaches and ask them to point out your irresponsibility to your classmates and/or team mates.

7.14. If you do not do your chores, then we will call your grandparents and get them to make you do them.

7.15. If you do not do your chores, then we are going to go to a counselor to get you to do them.

7.16. If you do not do this specific chore, then I will get so mad that, then I will give you a beating you will never forget.

7.17. If you do not do this specific chore, then I will not speak to you until you get it done right.

7.18. If you do not get this chore done, then it will go undone.

7.19. If you do not get this chore done on the outside of the house, then all the neighbors will see that it wasn't done and they will think we are sloppy neighbors.

7.20. If you do not do this chore, then I will be very disappointed in you.

7.21. If we all chose not to do our chores, then it would be very uncomfortable to live in this house.

7.22. If you do not do your chores, then we will have to hire someone to come into the house to do it. We will have to use the money we would normally spend on family recreation and leisure activities to pay this person.

7.23. If you do not do your chores, we will not be able to have an organized household and there will be a lot of arguments, fights and dissension making this an uncomfortable place to live.

7.24. If you do not do your chores, then you are a pig.

7.25. If you do not do your chores, then you will become an irresponsible adult incapable of taking care of your own life and unfit to be a employee, spouse or parent.

Journal Exercise

Directions: In your personal journal answer the following questions.

1. How do you feel about the use of natural and logical consequences as the vehicle to assist your children to become personally responsible? What obstacles do you see in using them in your family?

2. How easy do you find it to come up with natural and logical consequences for encouraging desired behaviors in your children? What makes this task difficult for you? What do you need to do to help you make it a easier and more natural task for you?

3. How would you have responded to the use of natural and logical consequences if your parents used them with you when you were younger? What do you think you would be like today, if they had been used in a consistent healthy way when you were growing up.

4. What do you think your children will do if you begin to change the way you discipline to the natural and logical consequence model? What do you think you will have the hardest time with in implementing this model in your family?

5. How effective has your current form of discipline been with your children? How close was it to the natural and logical consequence model? How difficult will it be to convert it to this model?

6. What is your response to this Pathfinder Parenting model to this point? What do you like? What do you dislike? How practical do you find it for your particular family? What needs to be modified for it to be effective with your particular family?

7. How much, of what you have read so far in this book, is relevant to you and your family? How would it be useful or not useful in your family? Why do you think much of what you have read is either useful or not useful to be used in your family?

8. What do you feel is blocking you from freely accepting the structure and philosophy of the Pathfinder Parenting Model? Or what do you feel is encouraging you to so freely and openly accept and embrace the Pathfinder Parenting Model?

9. How does the natural and logical consequence model impact your willingness to either accept or reject the Pathfinder Parenting Model? What alternative model of responsible behavioral shaping do you feel would be more appropriate for you as a Pathfinder? Or why do you feel this form of behavioral shaping fits you so well?

10. What is the current status of your efforts to implement the recommendation of Pathfinders in your family? What is preventing you from moving forward with them? What do you need to motivate you to change your parenting approach? What do you think accounts for your inactivity in implementing change in your family?

 

Answer Key: Developing natural and logical consequences exercise

1.1. L

1.2. N

1.3. L

1.4. Neither - Punishment

2.1. L

2.2. N

2.3. Neither - Nagging,overcontrolling

2.4. N

3.1. N

3.2. Neither - Revenge

3.3. Neither - Fixing, overcontrolling

3.4. L

4.1. N

4.2. L

4.3. Neither - Revenge

4.4. N

5.1. N

5.2. L

5.3. N

5.4. L

6.1. L

6.2. L

6.3. Neither - Revenge

6.4. N

7.1. L

7.2. N

7.3. Neither - Guilt inducing

7.4. Neither - Intimidation

7.5. L

7.6. L

7.7. L

7.8. N

7.9. L

7.10. Neither - Nagging

7.11. Neither - Punishment

7.12. L

7.13. Neither - Revenge

7.14. Neither - Intimidation

7.15. Neither - Intimidation

7.16. Neither - Punishment

7.17. Neither - Revenge

7.18. N

7.19. N

7.20. Neither - Guilt inducing

7.21. N

7.22. N

7.23. N

7.24. Neither - Belittling

7.25. Neither - Guilt inducing