How to Quickly Think of a Logical Consequence for Kids

Logical consequences are a powerful parenting tool, but it can be hard to think of them in the moment. Use this trick to make it easy.

Mom correcting a toddler

Logical consequences are my favorite tool to use to help children learn life lessons and follow directions.

I find logical consequences very effective for helping children learn to obey.

Some parents do not have minds that naturally flow into the logical, realm, which is fine. But for those parents, thinking of a logical consequence in a moment can be difficult.

Even for parents who are logical by nature, thinking of a good logical consequence can be tricky at the exact moment.

How to Decide Logical Consequences: What Was Mis-Used

On Becoming Preschoolwise has a list of different tools of correction for your little preschooler, including logical consequences.

Ezzo and Bucknam have an easy, one-step process to help you think of something:

What is it your child misused?

Once you identify what was misused, you can make the consequence flow from that. 

Let’s look at some concerns you readers have had and give a short, simple logical consequence for it.

Child Responds to Instruction with “No”

Many of you have wondered what to do when your child tells you no when given a direction.

What was misused?

In this case, the child mis-used a verbal freedom.

You could remove verbal freedoms for a period of time. You can also remove the freedom to choose. So if you asked your child to come to you, she said no, you go pick her up and bring her to you. 

You can also remove something related to the direction you gave.

You told your child to clean up the toys and she said no? She might lose those toys for a certain period of time. 

>>>Read: How to Respond When Your Kiddo Tells You “No”

Child Throws Toys

If your child throws a toy, then your child mis-used the toy. I would take the toy away.

The question is then how long do you keep the toy away? That can vary depending on how often this has happened, how old your child is, and the circumstance around the toy-throwing.

>>>Read: Logical Consequences for Throwing Toys

Child Touches Things She Shouldn’t

There will be many times your child will touch something she shouldn’t. The child mis-used her physical freedoms and is ignoring you.

A good logical consequence would say, “That is too bad that you touched the stove after I told you not to! I guess you will have to sit in your high chair since you can’t control yourself.”

>>>Read: Child-Proofing vs. House-Proofing

Child Gets Out of Bed When She Shouldn’t

Almost every child will test this boundary at some point. Do not be surprised or worrried when it happens.

In this situation, the child is mis-using her freedom to choose when to get out of bed.

This is harder than simply taking away that freedom because that doesn’t mean the child won’t stay put.

You might need to remove another freedom associated with the bedroom or add time to how long the child should be in bed. You can also take away a privilege that happens after bed (like TV time).

>>>Read: What To Do When Your Toddler/Child is Getting Out of Bed

Child Hits (Playfully or Meanly)

If your child is being physically aggressive, then your little one is misusing her hands.

If she won’t control her hands, you need to remove her from being able to contact others with her hands.

If you are with friends at the park, you might leave immediately.

If you are at home, you might remove her from other family members. You want to remove the child from her victims. Do not just tell her to stop but leave her to still hit others.

>>>Read: Logical Consequences to Stop Kids Hitting and Biting

Child Doesn’t Stay By You In Store

If your kiddo is not staying by you at the story, then your little one is misusing the freedom to move on her own.

If you have a cart available, I would put her in the cart right away. An obvious potential problem with this is the tantrum that would follow. If that happened, the next step would be to leave the store (NOT to put her on the floor again and allow her to walk). 

But this leads to me needing to point out that you don’t want to allow the freedom of walking before the child is old enough to handle it. If you do, you need to be fully prepared to walk out of that store without purchasing anything if needed.

Do not let your child walk by you in the store if she is not consistently listening at home.

>>>Read: How To Respond When Your Child has a Public Tantrum

Child Rips Pages In Books

If your child is ripping pages in books, then he is missing books, so the natural lead would be no books.

I would hate that to be a consequence as a parent, so I would say the child is only able to look at books that have no pages to rip (board books and soft books) unless Mom or Dad is holding the book for her. 

Kaitlyn once took a library book to bed and pulled the library stickers off. Her consequence was that she was not allowed to take library books to her room for a significant period of time.

Child Refuses To Eat

In most cases, I wouldn’t actually view this as negative behavior.

I prefer to follow a child’s lead on food and not make things a battle. I have my children try something once, but if they don’t like it, that is fine.

They then need to try it each time we have it. If we have it often, I have them try it every couple of months. 

For example, Brayden has never liked corn. He loves most vegetables, so this isn’t a general defiance thing. He just doesn’t like corn. That is totally fine. We all have things we don’t like. We have that frequently, so I have him try it every once in a while.

Every few months, I have him take a bite because our taste buds are always changing and he might decide he likes it someday. But once he says he doesn’t like it, that is all he needs to eat. 


I hope that helps get your logical consequence mind flowing. When your child does something wrong, remember the question “what did my child mis-use?” Then go from there.

Logical consequences are extremely effective. I use logical consequences more than any other discipline method by far. Work to get in the mindset.  


This post originally appeared on this blog December 2010

How to think of logical consequences for kids

10 thoughts on “How to Quickly Think of a Logical Consequence for Kids”

  1. love this, thanks so much! i just finished toddlerwise and found some really really helpful things for my almost 2 year old!

  2. Except you didn't actually write out what would happen if Brayden didn't try the corn at all. You said they need to take a bite if but if he doesn't like it that's all he needs to eat-but what do you do if he doesn't take the first bite?Scooter isn't even a picky eater, he just wont even take that first bite. Do I have him not get any other food until he does take a bite? I tried that once. He went from Friday lunch to Sunday breakfast without eating anything. I gave him some pediLyte so he'd stay hydrated. He had.a choice of a bite of either carrot pea OR corn. Just one bite of either not ALL. It was a very horrible experience. He finally was too weak to refuse when I held up a piece of corn and told him to take a bite. He promptly threw up when he swalled it. Using dessert never works, he doesn't care about treats and will gladly give up a cookie brownie or anything just so he doesn't have to have what's on his plate. So, what if your kids refuse to even take that first bite what is a logical co sequence for that?(and when I say he doesn't eat things, he hasn't eaten a vegetable since the last bite of mushed baby food peas in July of 2009. He hasnt had a bite of pasta or veggies ever

  3. i have read about the verbal freedoms in the books,etc but I'm confused what exactly it means about taking verbal freedoms away? I know you can say "you don't have the freedom to say x" but is that what is meant? I didn't think so but I'm not sure what. Can you elobrate and explain if it is different for say a 2.5 YO and a 4 YO?Thanks!

  4. This is a great post. I love your philosophy around meal time–I don't want meals to be a battle either. At what age did you require taking a bite of everything? I don't think Meghan is quite old enough to understand that yet (she's 26 months). I'm still trying to decide if I want to use that approach or not. Thanks!

  5. This is a great post. I love your philosophy around meal time–I don't want meals to be a battle either. At what age did you require taking a bite of everything? I don't think Meghan is quite old enough to understand that yet (she's 26 months). I'm still trying to decide if I want to use that approach or not. Thanks!

  6. Lorri,I honestly haven't had an extreme experience like that. Kaitlyn once refused and sat in her chair for over an hour, but she eventually took the bite. None of them have held out that long.If you follow through and require obedience and he is obedient in other ares of life, then I wouldn't make this a huge battle right now and would probably go to the sneaking of veggies into his diet. But if he doesn't obey well in other areas, I would work on that. It will then translate over into obedience at the table.

  7. Michael and Yvonne,A verbal freedom is what your child is allowed to say. If you let him get away with saying disrespectful things, then you are allowing a verbal freedom that is inappropriate.A verbal freedom is hard to control obviously. Overall obedience will lead to verbal obedience. You can also require that the child go to his room alone if he can't speak nicely, kindly, appropriately, etc. If he can't be good with his words, then he isn't allowed to be around the rest of the family to say the words to.

  8. Maryea, I actually start taking a bite of everything from the time they start eating. So they are very used to eating a bite from the beginning–it is our habit.


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