When Natural Consequences Don’t Work


Sometimes children do things we don’t want them to do. Sometimes that’s drawing hearts and stars on walls, doors, floors. Sometimes it’s possible to over look the art work, clean it up ourselves, and move on without mentioning it to the child. Sometimes something more is needed.

One of our kiddos likes to draw. On the walls. On the doors. On the floors. Anywhere she happens to be when inspiration strikes. The way we’ve dealt with this shifts each time we find new art adorning our walls.

We only cleaned it up ourselves once or twice. After that, she needed to clean the art work herself. Sometimes this meant needing to clean an entire wall because when she cleaned one spot it suddenly became obvious only part of the wall was clean. I didn’t like that, so the entire wall needed to be washed.

The art work continued.

She’s steam cleaned the carpet.

The art work continued.

We decided to change tactics.

Instead of continuing with consequences for her actions, we decided to prevent her actions. We realized she has a burning desire to create, she also had boredom, and limited personal craft supplies. Often she’d find something wherever she happened to be, and use it.

We decided to create a personal art kit for her, with nice craft supplies and a satchel so she can carry it with her anywhere and everywhere. We don’t know if this will protect our walls, doors, and floors, but so far she’s so excited by her special kit that the art has remained only where we’d like it.

It’s important to us to connect with our children even when we don’t like the things they do. It’s important to us that they know they, as people, are worthy of our love. It doesn’t mean we always like what they do, but as we guide them toward adulthood we want them to know we’ll help them find solutions to mistakes and know that mistakes do not define them. We want them to know we’re on their team, that means most of the time the solution doesn’t look like punishment. Instead it’s us looking deeper than the behaviour to find the root cause and dealing with that. Oftentimes that means just giving more love.

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