You have an option–logical consequences. These are arranged consequences which children must perceive as being logical in nature. For instance, with April and June, you might ask your class if they are having the same problems concentrating as you are. Ask your students for solutions to April and June’s whispering. One alternative might be to let April and June sit together in the back of the room and whisper for the remainder of the class. You could explain how this would make everyone happy: April and June could carry on their conversation, and you as well as the rest of the class would be saved from their distractions.
Below are some guidelines to keep in mind for using logical consequences:
o Always give children a choice–to do the right thing or continue doing the wrong thing. If they choose to carry on misbehaving, their consequence should be immediate. Also, set a time limit to their logical consequence. This lets children have another chance if they change their minds. For instance, if Dan decides he’d rather stand beside than sit in his desk, you might ask him after ten minutes if he has changed his mind.
o Logical consequences work best with attention-getting behaviors. I wouldn’t recommend it with children trying to get even with you or dominate you; they typically don’t care about the consequences of their actions. Likewise children who are extremely angry or hostile rarely see the connection between what they did and their logical consequences. They’re more inclined to think of consequences as a punishment imposed upon them by controlling or unfair adults.
o Some situations, for instance those where a child could get hurt, are not amenable to logical consequences. However, you’d be surprised how often you still can transform these situations into logical consequences–so long the child thinks he has a choice, and so long the consequence seems logical to him. For instance, my son likes to play fight–usually with boys bigger than him. The last time Nathan got hurt, I explained to him that bigger boys could hurt him more than smaller boys. And it would be smarter for him to play fight with boys his own size or someone like his dad. He could do something different with his bigger friends, like play hide-and-seek or tag. I left it up to him to do what he thought was right.
Logical consequences can be a challenge for some parents. They can’t stand waiting, and want problems solved NOW! A swat on the rear gives Amanda a clear message–you don’t throw toys into the toilet. Whereas the process of explaining to Amanda that small toys clog the toilet, and if the toilet gets clogged mommy, daddy, and Amanda won’t be able to use it, so if she throws another toy in the toilet you’ll have to take away all her small toys for two days demands a lot more patience–more than some parents have at times. If you find yourself running short of patience, have a cup of coffee, go to the bathroom, think of something funny, or do something that will lighten your mood and give you a fresh outlook on your child and what she did.