Dear Families,

From our beloved Love & Logic guru, Charles Fay, comes this advice about effective consequences:

Have you ever been at a complete loss for an effective consequence? One of the most common requests we get is:

“Can you give us a list of consequences?”

The reason you won’t find this in any of our materials is that effective discipline involves far more than simply picking the right consequence. It involves building and maintaining loving relationships so that: (a) kids are less likely to rebel, and (b) they experience genuine remorse when they blow it. It also involves setting effective limits, sharing control within these limits, and teaching skills so children are prepared for life’s tough challenges.

With this said, there are a variety of consequences that often outperform all others. These are often called “restitution.” We at Love and Logic refer to restitution as the “Energy Drain” approach. Performing restitution means to restore. It means to make things right by performing any action that repairs the inconvenience or damage inflicted on others.

It’s the preferred type of consequence because it:

  • Leaves kids seeing they can solve the problems they create
  • Requires real thought, action, and learning
  • Builds healthy self-esteem and efficacy
  • Meets the need to reconnect when relationships have been damaged

While it’s not always possible to repair a concrete object, it’s almost always possible to replace energy drained from another person. Having kids replace voltage they sap is the approach of choice, particularly with youth who feel poorly about themselves and need to see they are capable of doing good.

The next time your child drains somebody’s energy you may want to experiment with saying, “This is so sad. What an energy drain. How are you going to replace that energy?” Then provide some options, such as:

  • “Some kids decide to do extra chores.”
  • “Others decide to wash the person’s car inside and out.”
  • “Some decide to stay home instead of being driven to practice.”

Be positive and thankful about their energy replacement efforts. Don’t try to make them feel bad, and don’t be surprised if they appear to enjoy replacing your energy.

Kids don’t have to feel horrible to learn from restitution. In fact, many will feel good about it. When this happens, it often translates into fewer battles for everyone involved.

May this advice serve all of us well!

In joyful service,

Mrs. Dolan


Read the full newsletter here: