Helping your teen become motivated by using natural and logical consequences

As you probably know by now, especially if you read this post, discipline and punishment are not effective ways to “motivate” teens to change their behavior.

That’s because motivation has to come from within.  And, a lot of times, teens will not be internally motivated to do anything differently until they have a compelling reason to change—which isn’t likely to happen until/unless they are allowed to feel the sting of the natural or logical consequences that happen as a result of their choices and actions related to these issues.

Natural and logical consequences teach important lessons when used strategically

When used as part of a strategic, collaborative process, natural/logical consequences become an important, effective tool in your parenting toolbox.

(To find out more about how to help your teen become motivated using a strategic, collaborative process, make sure you enroll in my FREE email course: How to Help your Teen go from Defiance to Motivation. To find out more, go HERE.)

Getting down to the nitty gritty: Examples of consequences

Here are some examples of natural/logical consequences that you could “let happen” as part of Step 4 of the strategic, collaborative parenting approach described HERE:

  • Oversleeping and missing the bus/late for school –> Get a tardy grade, be embarrassed showing up class, having to find/pay own way to school (Uber/Lyft)
  • Not brushing or flossing teeth –> Cavities or other dental work that they will have to pay for
  • Not wearing a coat or wearing shorts, etc. in the winter–>being cold at the bus stop
  • Forget to bring a lunch to school (or not making own lunch) –>being hungry at school
  • Not locking up or bringing bike into garage–> bike gets stolen
  • Losing belongings –> doing without until they can replace themselves
  • Not bringing dirty clothes to the laundry room–> having to do own wash or wear dirty clothes
  • Spending allowance as soon as it’s handed out–> no spending money until the next allowance day
  • Breaks/ruins/loses someone else’s belongings –>must replace item or give money to replace (pawning or selling own items if necessary to pay for it)
  • Being mean or rude to friends–> friends won’t want to hang out with them or include them in activities
  • Violating rules and limits set for screen time or cell phone/other device use–> forfeit use of device for set period of time
  • Poor grades–> doesn’t qualify for “good driver discount” on car insurance and must pay difference; must make up credits in summer school.
  • Doesn’t take ADHD medication –> not allowed to drive

What if there really isn’t a natural or logical consequence to an undesired behavior?

If there is a behavior for which there isn’t a natural or logical consequence you can rely on happening, you can create one, but it’s important that you discussing ahead of time, with your teen, what the desired behavior is and what the result (consequence) will be if he does not meet the discussed goals and objectives.

For example:

Problem: Not doing his share of chores. Collaborative discussion about consequences: In order to do fun things with the family, we all must contribute to the family. What chores/jobs must we each do in order to qualify for fun things like dinners out or vacations? (You discuss this with your teen ahead of time, get his input and buy-in on a list of chores, and then if/when he doesn’t follow through, the resulting consequence is whatever you decided during that discussion would happen.) He chooses the behavior, he chooses the consequence.

Your most important role in all of this:

I hope by now that you can see that I’m not suggesting that you just back off and allow your teen to fail in order to ‘teach him a lesson’. On the contrary, what I’m suggesting is a very strategic approach where you allow consequences to happen in a controlled, caring, empowering environment. You still have a very important role to play in this process—when the time is right. When your teen is allowed to experience consequences, at that point it’s likely that he/she will decide that there is a problem that they want/need to solve—they don’t want that consequence to happen again! But, in most instances (especially when they have ADHD), they won’t know exactly how to solve it or be able to make changes without help or support. This is the perfect point for you to step in and offer help, input and support.

Because they had a chance to try it their way and things did not work out as planned, they will be much more willing to hear what you have to say! At this point, you become an important, helpful ally, instead of the ‘bad guy’.

Want some 1:1 help with this?

Are you at a loss for how to put this kind of strategy in place for the specific problems you’re having with your teen?

Do you want to learn more about my step by step strategic and collaborative process (and get one on one support as you implement it) so you can effectively and confidently deal with any problems that come up in the future?

Do you need some help coming up with (and following through on) natural and logical consequences for your teen?

These are the kinds of things I can help you with when we work together one on one!

To find out more, go HERE.