In the education of children, the concept of punishment is still very strong and can be applied by parents and other reference figures of the little ones in many ways. The Montessori method suggests instead of replacing punishments with natural or logical consequences. But what exactly is it?
By natural consequences we mean a decidedly sweeter system capable of making children independent and responsible without the use of screams, punishments or threats.
Maria Montessori believed that the use of punishment (as well as prizes) inhibited the development of self-discipline. These solutions, often used by those dealing with children, deny children the opportunity to make unconditional decisions and to be responsible for their own behavior. With prizes and punishments, in fact, rather than learning how to analyze situations and make wise decisions, children often decide to behave based on what an adult could do: that is, reward them or on the contrary put them in punishment.
If you want to educate in the Montessori style, it is a good idea to help children define and understand the natural or logical consequences, motivating and explaining each situation in the best way possible. In this way they will learn to make responsible decisions and their submission to adults will not be forced into them.
Using natural consequences will lead children to make the right decisions not to avoid punishment or fear, but because they will know the consequences and impact of their actions. In this way, children will have the opportunity to learn from the natural order of things.
It is a good way to show children that their choices impact both themselves and others. However, for the system to be effective, children must be able to see the link between action and consequences.
When to use natural or logical consequences and some examples to get started
Replacing a punishment with a natural consequence is possible in all sorts of behavior, from the simplest things like dropping a fragile object to the more complicated ones like biting friends.
Choosing how to educate your children is something very personal and often difficult, but for those who want to try to use the natural consequences at home here are 10 examples to get started :
- Scenario 1 : It’s time to go to the park and your son refuses to put on his shoes.
Consequence: he will have to sit on a bench with you rather than play because it is not safe to run on the playground without shoes.
- Scenario 2: Your daughter throws all the food on the floor at dinner time.
Consequence: he will not be able to eat.
- Scenario 3: your child leaves his toys in the garden despite the request to bring them home.
Consequence: it rains and one of his favorite toys is ruined and must be thrown away.
- Scenario 4: a child makes fun of his sister
Consequence: the sister does not want to play with him
- Scenario 5: the child runs into the house
- Consequence: a lamp breaks and it will take the money he has set aside or the pocket money of many weeks to repay it.
But sometimes wrong behavior doesn’t have an immediate natural consequence. For example, the refusal to brush your teeth will lead to caries in the future but even if you explain it to children these will probably not change their positions because they do not see direct effects.
In cases where there are no natural consequences or the consequence is too far in the future to be an effective deterrent, we can use logical consequences, something that we adults have to create.
Here are some examples of logical consequences:
- Scenario 1: Your daughter pushes a child on the playground.
- Consequence : You tell your daughter that you can’t trust her if she risks hurting other people when she plays alone. He will therefore stay with you until you know that when he plays he is calm and safe. This should be explained in the most neutral tone possible in order to make it clear that the impact of his choices has consequences and clarifying that the behavior he has had is not acceptable.
- Scenario 2: Your child mishandles the books from the library he brought home.
- Consequence: put the books aside explaining that if you can’t take care of them, you won’t even be able to read them because they must be in good condition when they are returned to the library. If your child is older, you may also prefer the natural consequence of tearing the pages and then saving him to pay the cost of the library.
- Scenario 3: your daughter is playing in the backyard. You asked her to pay attention to the flowers but she is trampling them.
- Consequence: ask her to enter. If it can’t be respectful of your garden, it won’t even be able to play with it.
- Scenario 4: Your child gets angry every time he has to leave his friends’ house
- Consequence: refuse the next invitation to play with friends by explaining to your child that he will no longer be able to go until he is able to play with that friend and then at the moment of leaving leave his house calmly.
- Scenario 5: the child gets up repeatedly at night, waking up several times without real reasons.
- Consequence: you explain to him that in the morning you are too tired to prepare the usual breakfast he loves and will have to fall back on something simpler.