I have come up with another idea to maybe make parenting a bit easier. I have coined it, “parenting by the laws of natural consequences”. Why didn’t I think of this earlier when I was trying to figure out new parenting strategies while raising my own children? Parenting seems like many things in life, once you have perspective it is easier, but you only get perspective by experience. Confusing.
So, back to natural consequences. Even beginning in infancy, you will notice that your 5-6 month old starts to “control” you a bit. In other words, have you noticed that they may cough or squeal to get your attention? But, once you figure it out and if you stop turning your head their “intentional cough” may stop. Hmmm...natural consequences.
Soon thereafter your child starts to play the “I drop it and you pick it up” game. But after you finally stop picking up everything they drop, your child begins to be selective about what they drop. For example, food. When your toddler drops their food on the floor and you keep picking it up they really are bored rather than hungry. If you let them know that you will not pick up their food after they throw or drop it, suddenly you see they eat when they are hungry and only throw the food when bored. Natural consequence, I need to eat.
Think about this for an older child as well. There are so many examples, but a common one is homework. If you “help” your child do their homework every night, remind them to do it over and over again, check to make sure it is done and in their backpack, you suddenly realize that you have a tween or a teen that relies on you but they should have been fostering independence and self organization along the way.
Now, if you had been available for help, and had a “homework” time and a quiet study area early on, your child typically developed good habits. What if the homework didn’t get turned in? They would have consequences, whether it was to do it during recess (for younger children), or to get a zero for older children. Again, natural consequences. Live and learn.
I think “we” parents sometimes “over think” the issues. We (I am included) try to solve some of the easier problems children face rather than letting natural consequences be the way to learn. I am not advocating letting your child fall into the pool and drown, or run in front of cars.......but there are many times parents can sit back a bit and watch their child figure it out.