Like plenty of moms, in the bucket of my tools to work with my kids figures prominently the Love and Logic way of doing things and the concept of natural consequences. Letting kids experience the consequence of their strong decision to not wear a coat on a 50 degree day.
Or run downhill in flip flops.
Or to slide down the slide with water pooled at the bottom.
To run on the top bleacher.
Or to pet the angry dog despite caretaker saying “Stop!”
To play in the snow despite a sore throat.
To drink out of sick sister/brother’s cup.
To draw on their face with a sharpie.
To eat ALL the candy.
To wear a winter coat on a hot day.
To hold your sibling under water of the kiddie pool.
Not without limitations however.
Oftimes it is the parent that pays that consequence, as well as the kid.
No one likes to be or see a helicopter parent. It’s hard for the kids, hard for the parent, hard for the onlooker.
But natural consequences for a kid under 6 can be really, really hard for everyone. Because almost every decision will some how effect the whole family, a trip to the ER, guesswork on how to stem the blood, or how to comfort and to what degree comfort a child in pain. No kid has ever been grateful for a parent who said “Told ya so,”.
A friend who visits annually. In the past several years, she has seemed to want to show the degree to which she is NOT a helicopter parent, is not uptight … and she permits. She permits. Then come the consequences, those natural consequences, the ones that leave us scrambling to deal with blood, or soaked clothing on a cool day, tears, pain, persistent discomfort, etc.
Ultimately, I feel sorry for the kid. Because I want the third way.
The way in which we use those college-educated brains of ours to coax our kids into better choices, or simply let them know that we don’t play in puddles when it is cold and windy, and we don’t ride the scooter or bike unless we know how to stop the thing.
It can become a battle of wills, a power struggle. But I have to believe that something can prevail and we can find that third way.
If we cannot, our kids, and then by extension, the caretaker will pay the consequence. Blood, illness, concussions etc.
Natural consequences for a 3 or 4-year old require the ability to judge what areas in which we permit them to experience those consequences. Because we know that sometimes, those natural consequences will fall to us, as caretakers.
Limitations of an idea. Yeah, they are always there.