Sunday, October 25, 2009

Unnatural Consequences

Okay, B., this post is for you since you asked :).

I am a firm believer in natural consequences for my children. But you know, sometimes there just isn't one that corresponds directly with their behavior. Overall our dc are obedient, helpful, respectful, loving, playful, and cheerful; but there are times... For those times I have a very loose behavior chart. Mainly, for the olders, I use it for disrespect or not following through with something I've asked them to do (several times). I am not 100% consistent, but the tool is there if I feel it necessary - I guess you could say that I use it intermittently which, from a behavioralist point of view (which I'm really not), is suppose to be the most effective. Montessori purists are perhaps aghast that I would even discuss this! It goes against their natural learning and is imposing, right? I agree. On the other hand, it helps remove me and the child out of a situation which can sometimes be a good thing. So here it is:

There is a simple grid with their name at the top. One of those round magnets is in the block. Each time it is moved down. When it reaches the bottom they loose a priviledge and start all over again. Usually they lose whatever the next fun thing is and a lot of the time it ends up being not watching a TV show or something like that. It just depends on what's going on in life and it's always my perogotive. Yesterday both the olders reached the bottom and coincidentally lost a priviledge at the same time. They lost the treat of having ice cream on the way home today while the youngest (who did NOT loose a priviledge) got one. As we approached the house middle dd said, "Mommy, I'm glad you don't spoil us," so I guess it's not too bad. It may be a week or even a month between priviledge losses but it does help to have that option for us. It removes me, the child, and emotion out of the consequence and moving the magnet will oftentimes help the child check herself and calm down (or focus on responsibilities).

Younger dd's is a little different. She just has a smiley side and a frowny side (are those real words?) with 3 magnets in the smiley column. If she moves all 3 in one day she looses a priviledge. I can't even remember the last time she lost a priviledge.

I hope this works. I uploaded a pdf file to googledocs so you can just print it. Here is the link:

Let me know if this works!

So there are my very un-Montessori, un-natural consequences, negative consequence charts! Fortunately, life is full of natural consequences so it's used sparingly.


  1. We have used a similar chart in the past with my oldest who is three. It worked for a bit and then like all things with her it stopped working. I struggle so much with this issue though, because she is a very feisty little girl with lots of attitude and though she seems to respond to the Montessori approach at school with her teachers it does not seem to work at home from me. She just does not seem care at home. Natural consequences go unnoticed by her at home.

  2. Hi 'Adventures in Montessori' (love the name!),

    I remember 3 being a hard age for natural consequences because a lot of times we're trying to get them to do things that they can't see an immediate reason for doing and the natural consequence may not offect them as directly as it affects us. Some things that come to mind are: stop playing to eat dinner with the family; stop what they're doing and hurrying out the door to go somewhere; stop what they're doing for whatever :); cleaning up what they've played with when in their minds they'll be playing with it again so, why clean it?

    Plus, if she's the oldest at 3 yrs then losing something that the siblings are doing may not have the same affect as my youngest when she was 3 and wanted to be doing everything her older sisters were doing.

    I admit, I remember that being a tough age for natural consequences, and me actually 'rigging' or artificially 'setting up' natural consequences for them.

    Thanks so much for your comment!