Logical Consequences as an Effective Discipline Strategy

Negative consequences that teach life lessons.

Discipline your child with logical consequences.
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Deciding on a consequence for your child's misbehavior can be difficult sometimes. Should you take away his electronics or tell him he can't go to his friend's house?

Or what if he breaks something out of anger? How should you teach him to make better choices next time he's angry?

Fortunately, logical consequences take away some of the guess work. When you use logical consequences you can address each rule violation in a direct and helpful manner.


What are Logical Consequences?

Logical consequences are a consequence and not a punishment. But, they are described as a technique that allows “the punishment to fit the crime.” 

Logical consequences are directly related to the misbehavior. Unlike natural consequences, logical consequences must be created and enforced by you. But, rather than shame kids into feeling bad or try to force them into submission, logical consequences teach children how to make better choices in the future. 

No matter which type of parenting style or discipline technique you use, logical consequences can serve as one of your best discipline tactics. And the best news is, they work well for children of all ages and they're effective for a variety of rule violations.

Examples of Logical Consequences

Here are some examples of logical consequences that give kids the opportunity to take responsibility for their own behavior: 

  • An 8-year-old child rides his bike out of the driveway so he loses his bicycle privileges for 24 hours.
  • A 10-year-old is throwing a ball in the house and he breaks a lamp. He has to do chores to earn enough money to pay for a new lamp.
  • A 4-year-old refuses to pick up her dolls. She loses her privileges to play with the dolls for the rest of the day.
  • A 6-year-old is coloring a picture on the coffee table. She keeps coloring on the table instead of her paper. She loses the crayons for the rest of the day and has to help her parents wash and clean the table.
  • A 9-year-old misses the bus on purpose. His mother drives him to school but he has to do chores to earn gas money to pay for the ride to school and also has to stay after school to make up for the time he missed in the morning.
  • A 7-year-old refuses to eat his dinner. As a result, he’s not allowed to have dessert or a snack before bed.
  • An 11-year-old hasn't done his chores yet. He isn't allowed to play with his electronics or have any of his other privileges until he gets his chores done.

How to Make Logical Consequences Effective

Logical consequences work best when kids are aware of the consequences ahead of time. When possible, provide a warning such as, “If you don’t put your bike away right now, you won’t be able to ride it tomorrow.”

This helps prevent a power struggle where the child claims it’s unfair because he didn’t know the rules. By warning the child ahead of time, he has the option to make a choice about his behavior.

When a logical consequence involves taking away a privilege, establish a time frame.

Usually, taking a privilege away for 24 hours is plenty. Removing privilege for longer periods of time may lose effectiveness.

You also might decide to take away a privilege until your child earns it back. For example, take away your child's electronics until he cleans the garage. Then, leave it up to him to decide when he wants to get his work done. Don't nag, yell, or pester him to do it.

Consequences are most effective when they are immediate. If a child misbehaves today and he doesn’t receive a consequence until tomorrow, he’s not likely to associate the consequence with the misbehavior.

Be firm when giving logical consequences, but stay calm.

If you yell or make threats, your child will view you as being punitive. Consequently, your child may focus more on his angry behavior toward you, rather than the steps he can take to change his behavior going forward.


Baumrind D. Differentiating between Confrontive and Coercive Kinds of Parental Power-Assertive Disciplinary PracticesHuman Development. 2012;55(2):35-51. 

Mageau GCAA, Lessard J, Carpentier J, Robichaud J-M, Joussemet M, Koestner R. Effectiveness and acceptability beliefs regarding logical consequences and mild punishmentsJournal of Applied Developmental Psychology. 2018;54:12-22.