Logical and Natural Consequences and Discipline Without Stress

“Logical” and/or “natural” consequences are not used in Discipline without Stress. The reason is  secause they are imposed and, therefore, a form of punishment. The Discipline without Stress approach is to work with the student, rather than doing things to the student.It doesn’t matter if the adult’s intention is to teach a lesson; imposed punishments increase the likelihood that the student will feel punished by the adult.

While punishment may effectively stop misbehavior in the short term, there are often many unintended and negative side effects to the use of punishment. Any form of punishment where something is done to another person prompts negative feelings resentment, resistance, and even rebellion and retaliation.

A discipline approach that elicits consequences avoids these problems typically associated with punishment because students do not feel like victims when they have designed their own consequence and have been guided to a focus on learning from the misbehavior, rather than being punished for it.

By imposing a logical or natural consequence, the responsibility for thinking about the nature of the consequence falls to the adult, rather than upon the student. The student (as opposed to the teacher), should be the ones required to do the most thinking in discipline situations.

Adults will be more effective when they ask the student to generate a suitable consequence. By eliciting, rather than imposing a consequence, the young person owns it. People do not argue with their own decisions.

Here is an example to help understand the difference between a logical consequence and an elicited consequence: A young student has scribbled on a wall or an older student has vandalized a wall with graffiti.

In a school where logical consequences are employed, the adult would think about the situation arriving at a consequence that seems fair and meaningfully related to the misbehavior. In this situation, the adult would decide that, as an appropriate logical consequence, the student should be required to clean up the mess on the wall. The adult would inform the student of the consequence—thereby imposing the consequence and making it a punishment.

In a school using the Marshall approach of discipline, the situation would be handled differently. The teacher would expect the student to do the thinking, thus allowing the student an opportunity to take responsibility for the behavior. Instead of imposing an appropriate consequence on the student, the teacher would instead elicit an appropriate consequence from the student.

The student would be asked, “What do you think should happen now that you’ve drawn on the wall?” Because the student would be asked to think, you can imagine the student might say something like, “I should clean the wall.” The teacher would agree that this would be a suitable consequence.

Interestingly, in either case, the consequence is exactly the same; the wall is cleaned up by the person who drew on it. The nature of the consequence is not the important issue. The important point is that a logical consequence is imposed prompting stress on both teacher and student. In contrast, Discipline without Stress removes the stress factor because there is little if any negative feeling prompted by the procedure of elicitation.

You may ask, “What’s the big deal? If in both scenarios the situation ends up that the young person cleaning up the mess made on the wall, why does it matter who thought of the idea? ” This one difference is critical. Learning, growth, and long-term change comes as a result of thinking to oneself about one’s behavior and about the outcomes that result from that behavior. By being prompted to think about and determine the consequence of an inappropriate behavior, the student is more likely to make more responsible choices in the future.

1 Comment
  1. Anything that is imposed, rather than elicited falls in this realm, i.e., when the person in authority refers to “this is the natural consequence or the logical consequence from what the person did.”