Guest Post: Logical Consequences with Tweens

by Heligirl on August 11, 2010

in Daily Ramblings,Guest Posts,Parenting Tidbits,Positive Discipline

I typically have some pretty quick advice when it comes to toddlers and preschoolers, but when it comes to tweens and teens, my advice has to come from my studying and the advice of experts. I’m all about sharing personal experience here on Heligirl, so when Heather from Making it Work Mom commented on my recent post on avoiding punishment in favor of positive discipline, I just had to ask her to share her wisdom.

I hope to make this a common practice here, inviting you, my wonderful readers, to join the conversation and share your experiences with positive discipline. Together we can help increase awareness of this great alternative to the many negative parenting styles we experienced as children. If you have a story you want to tell, please drop me an email.

In Heather’s case, she found logical consequences to be a refreshing and effective discipline technique with her tween. Here is her story in her own words:


Discipline is hard. Disciplining your children is really hard. Disciplining your tween or teen is the hardest.

I should know. My tween is a lovely child – when she is at someone else’s house, when she is at school, or when she is getting one on one time. Unfortunately when she spends extended time with her brother or sister, when she gets tired or bored, when she gets asked to do something that maybe she doesn’t want to do it usually means trouble. She was toddler who bit, scratched and hit. And even at 10 she can still be physical when she is upset. I think she had her first big melt down at about 18 months and they have continued on a regular basis.

Obviously there is a pattern to her behavior. And it is obvious that the strategies that I have been using are not working.

She is the queen of Time Out. She has spent a lot of time in her bedroom. She used to beg not to go. She would apologize and beg forgiveness with the hope that I would relent and not send her to her room. Now I tell her to go and she shrugs her shoulders and trudges up the stairs. I used to go up to her room after a few minutes and lecture her, willing her to change her behavior based on the logic of my argument. I am pretty sure she tuned me out after 30 seconds. Eventually she would agree that her behavior had been out of line and apologize, but there was a definite lack of sincerity. And her behaviors remained the same.

We have also experimented with taking things away. She doesn’t play video games. She is not much of a TV watcher. It was hard to find something to take away that would “mean” something. It was also hard to determine the value for her behavior challenges. If she was fresh to me did that mean one day of no TV? If she hit her brother did that mean she went to bed early? There was really no rhyme or reason. It was mostly just based on how aggravated I was that day. And yet, even with this “no fail” discipline method her behaviors remained the same.

It was obvious that I needed to reconsider my perceptions and methods of discipline.

Misconception #1

Discipline should hurt. It should be painful. If the child doesn’t cry it isn’t effective.

Misconception #2:

The goal of discipline is to make the child feel ashamed/bad about their behavior.

Misconception #3:

Discipline can only be effective if the child has a healthy dose of fear of his/her parent. Remember the saying “Wait till your father gets home.”

I realized I really needed to do some reflection. What was the point of my discipline with tween? What was I trying to accomplish?

My short term goal: To be able to live in our house where I didn’t feel like the next bomb was going to explode at any moment. To not worry about Tween’s brother and sister getting hurt.

My long term goal: I want her to learn. I want her to be a productive and successful member of society.

Then I thought about the punishments I’d been using. How was time out and arbitrarily taking away privileges helping her become a more productive and successful member of society? It wasn’t. It was just creating an environment where she felt angry, resentful, and discouraged and I pretty much felt the same way.

There had to be another way. And I had to find it quick. My tween is 10, time is of the essence. I consider this age to be one of the most critical for me as a parent. I had to step up and figure out what would work. If I didn’t, all I saw was heartache, anger, and frustration in our future. The future wasn’t looking bright.

So I started experimenting with logical consequences. Logical consequences are based on the idea that children shouldn’t be made to feel worse if we want them to do better. Logical consequences require that a child reflects on his/her behavior and consider the results of his/her choices.

Logical consequences is a process. It usually involves discussion with the end result being that the parent and child choosing a logical consequence for a misbehavior; what can the child do to “fix” what happened because of their behavior. Sometimes it is a little bit of an effort. Actually it is always an effort, an effort on the parent’s part. Logical consequences do not let you get away with screaming at your child to her room.

For example, the other night I am making dinner and my tween decides that she is bored and starts bugging her younger sister. Aggravating her and instigating her. The end result is that somehow my little one ends up with a hurt hand and is accusing Tween of causing the pain.

I am tired, I have worked all day and dinner needs to get on the table. Now my little one is crying and needs attention. She has a hurt hand and feelings. She wants to be cuddled and she needs some down time. Usually at that point I would send my tween to her room and then deal with my little one. This time we used some logical consequences. The tween and I quickly discussed the issue and what she had done to contribute to it. We then reached an agreement on how she could rectify the situation.

She agreed to get the ice and band-aid for her hurt sister, completely unnecessary physically, but for some reason crucial to the healing process of a 4 year old.

She then asked her little sister to pick out two books and she would read them to her to help her feel better. I got to continue to make dinner. When the books were done my two little girls continued to play together. It was bliss. Tween had to deal with the aftermath of what she had done and I think she felt better about it. In fact I think they both felt better after.

I have had the chance to utilize logical consequences several other times. My tween seems to like the process. She doesn’t mind the discussion. She likes it more than the lectures of past. And she seems to be making some connections; connections about her behaviors and the results of her behavior, connections that she couldn’t make upstairs in her bedroom.

Logical consequences are definitely more work. There is never an easy answer or a quick fix. It is always a process. But the beauty is that instead of correcting the same behavior all day long, maybe I am only doing it once or twice.

My tween seems to be self-correcting a little, and that is a breakthrough. We are enjoying our time together more. There doesn’t seem to be as much attention seeking competition among the three children. My tween seems a little more relaxed and more open with me.

I wasn’t looking for a quick fix or a magic formula. I was simply looking to help my tween progress in her development toward adulthood. I was looking for something to help our family become healthier and happier and I think that maybe I have found it.


Kudos to Heather for her amazing and honest story of how she researched and found a great way to not only get her tween to starting thinking about her actions and the consequences of those actions, but also helped reduce stress, sibling rivalry and the strain between her daughter and herself. Thanks so much Heather for the story.

Please visit Heather at Making it Work Mom to see how she juggles three kids, a full time job and a full social calendar for her brood. She has some creative ideas and skills when it comes to working with her kids to develop critical life skills, like using a football gear catalog to get her 8 year old to read more. Check her out!


Carol Ann August 11, 2010 at 11:35 am

Great post! This is definitely something we are working on implementing. Thanks for sharing your story Heather.
Carol Ann recently posted: Wordless Wednesday &amp Photo Challenges – Water &amp The Open Road

Twitter: Heligirl
August 11, 2010 at 8:56 pm

I’m so glad you liked this Carol Ann!
Heligirl recently posted: Guest Post- Logical Consequences with Tweens

Colleen (Shibley Smiles) August 11, 2010 at 12:47 pm

This is a very helpful post. I really love this idea. My sons are 13 and 10 and I think they could possibly relate to this. Thank you so much!
Colleen (Shibley Smiles) recently posted: Wordless Wednesday When by Babies Were Babies

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August 11, 2010 at 8:57 pm

I thought you’d like this one. You’re one of the reasons I asked Heather to guest post. Great stuff for everyone!

Momma Drama August 11, 2010 at 7:21 pm

that’s a wonderful post! thanks so much Heather for sharing!! my daughter is about to turn 10 and I’ve bought 4 books to help me through her teen years 🙂 that’s a great way to look at disciplining that I think will work well for her.
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August 12, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Isn’t she just the coolest? 🙂

Making It Work Mom August 11, 2010 at 8:14 pm

Thanks again Jen for the wonderful opportunity to share on your blog. I love all you do to promote positive parenting!
Making It Work Mom recently posted: It was kind of like I wonwasnt it

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August 12, 2010 at 1:23 pm

You’re so welcome. I loved having you here, and thanks again for such a great post.

Mrs.Mayhem August 11, 2010 at 9:17 pm

I enjoyed this post immensely. Thanks, Heather, for sharing your experiences.

It can be difficult for me to think of logical consequences in the heat of the moment, but whenever I take the time to do so, it simply seems to work better. I need to use this tactic more often. With my four kids, there is so much fuss and bickering that I get flustered from the noise… I understand now why my mom would always say, “I can’t hear myself think!”
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August 12, 2010 at 12:46 pm

In the webinar I took (and am offering to my readers next Tuesday!), Amy talks about setting up Logical Consequences ahead of time. I think what Heather talks about is AMAZINGLY wonderful and I’m working on implementing it as we speak since Sweetness likes to hit her brother. Another way to use logical consequences is to discuss ahead of time with your child what the rules are and what the consequences will be when they’re broken. That way you don’t need to come up with something in the heat of the moment.

Sonia Barton August 12, 2010 at 10:19 am

That is a lot of wonderful information. Thank you so much. I’ll have to see if it works on a moved back from college 19 year old – since we did the teen years all wrong.
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August 12, 2010 at 12:47 pm

I don’t think it’s ever too late to start using positive discipline. Kudos to you! I bet the new respectful discipline technique will work wonders for you. Please let me know how it’s going.

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