Yes, there's a subtle difference — and science suggests one might work better than the other.
So appreciate not just the content but the tone and perspective of this post!
Melinda, I agree that there’s no such thing as “too much” chocolate--or any food that brings joy :)
I enjoyed your explanation here. There’s so much nuance and semantic confusion around punishment, consequences, discipline, limits, boundaries, etc. These already difficult conversations become extra fraught when we (parents on the Internet) are operating from different definitions.
I *try* to focus on my intent and posture when approaching this stuff: Am I doing xyz in the spirit of punishment or of building awareness and skills? Am I communicating using shame or collaboration? Did I lay some groundwork for my child’s success in this situation?
As in the example of not leaving soon enough to go to the playground before dinner, I might check in at the play date about whether they still want to go to the playground, let them know when we need to leave to make it, and help them wrap up playing. I think of it as identifying each other’s needs (them: playground, me: on-time dinner) and working together to meet them. If, after all of that, we don’t make it to the playground, that consequence (which I’d call natural--again, semantics!) feels less like punishment, especially if I allow space for my child’s disappointment.
Of course, the above happens on the best of days when I am well-resourced. Above all, like you said, we undersupported parents do not need any more unrealistic expectations foisted upon us two years into pandemic life!
I love the terminology of "logical consequences" and am adding that to my parenting vocabulary immediately. I like the idea of "natural consequences" but have found myself contriving consequences, which has resulted in me feeling like I never quite got the hang of the natural part.
Enjoy your vacation!
The energy with which we come to our kids with logical consequences or not is so crucial. Also perspective-taking of the parent. When we parents can take the perspective of our children so much can shift.
I enjoyed reading this. Thank you.
Excellent perspective. I've often thought this and end up choosing between consequences and punishment (time out) not knowing if either are effective. Thank you for sharing this. However, I guess consequences are hard to explain to a child under 4 - which is where I guess the corner still plays a role..?
Great article with clear explanations. I too, write about consequences (natural and logical) as opposed to punishments. The concept of logical consequences seems hard for young parents to grasp. This means you and I have to return to this topic enough times to help clarify. Thanks for the excellent writing. I'm new to Substack. I'll subscribe when I figure it out!
I know I'm late to the party here, but I appreciate this clear explanation of distinctions that are often presented very murkily. One big question I still have: is it important that logical consequences be *true,* or just that they have a clear connection to the cause? I.e.: Does it matter whether or not we really have time to go to the playground, or whether I really have the energy to make pancakes? Because while my instinct is that it would be absurd to insist that logical consequences always overlap with natural consequences, it also feels odd to me to introduce random lies into parenting – not because I think it's necessary to be 100% honest with children, but because in this case, it feels actually misleading: I'm pretending that I don't have the energy to make pancakes, but really I'm just pissed at you for waking me up early when I've repeatedly told you not to. It feels like it actually IS a punishment, but that we're hiding that fact from the child. I don't want to insist on some sort of moral purity (truly) but I feel like this misdirection could open up other cans of worms.