Natural or Logical Consequences
NOTE: Page numbers enclosed in parentheses are citations from The Individual Psychology of Alfred Adler: A systematic presentation in selections from his writings. (H. L. and R. R. Ansbacher, Eds.).© 1964. Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc. Used by permission of Perseus Books Group.
Dreikurs and Grey (1968) published a system for training the child in an atmosphere of mutual respect through the use of natural or logical consequences. Although the idea was an old one, as the citation from Robert G. Ingersoll (1833-1899), below, indicates, their system represents a practical method parents may employ that enables children to experience both the satisfying and unpleasant consequences of their choices and actions. This does away with the forms of parental guidance and direction that entail lecturing, nagging, punishing, and other instruments of discouragement. Dreikurs and Grey recognized that the emerging democratic family required new tools to replace the praise/reward and shame/punishment methods which characterize the fading autocratic tradition. Natural consequences follow upon the child's behavior without parental intervention. Parents are taught to allow their children to experience the outcomes of their own actions. Logical consequences, however, must be discussed and agreed upon among the affected family members in advance of their applications, preferably in the context of the regular family meeting. If not agreed upon in advance and in this consensus-finding forum, the consequences are more likely to be experienced as punishments from above to below than as outcomes of personal choice and actions. The use of natural or logical consequences enhances the child's developing sense of him- or herself as a responsible participant in shaping the character of family life, as well as the circumstances of his or her own individual life. Anything can be abused in practice, and it must be noted that "consequences" invoked during a power struggle are experienced by children as punishment. A power struggle should be taken as the sign of a general breakdown of cooperation, and its natural consequence is the requirement to start over, and to discover what is required on all sides to make peace.
In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments. There are only consequences (Ingersoll, ¶ 5).
© Griffith, J., & Powers, R. L. (2007). The Lexicon of Adlerian Psychology: 106 terms Associated with the Individual Psychology of Alfred Adler (2nd ed.). Port Townsend, WA: Adlerian Psychology Associates (p. 71).
Definitions of concepts are used by permission of Jane Griffith. A comprehensive list of concepts and definitions can be found in The Lexicon of Adlerian Psychology: 106 Terms Associated with the Individual Psychology of Alfred Adler by Jane Griffith and Robert L. Powers, available for purchase on Amazon.com.
Dreikurs, R., & Grey, L. (1968). Logical consequences: A new approach to discipline. New York: Meredith.
Ingersoll, R. G. (1833-1899). [Quotation]. Retrieved March 4, 2007 from http://www.quotationspage.com/quotes/Robert Ingersoll.