Using logical consequences is a great method for putting the responsibility for club members’ behavior where it belongs—with them.
The kids are back! And with them come joys and challenges. Club discipline is a hot topic among club leaders. The first step in your discipline plan is to set some club rules. If you need help with that, see the Basic Training Workbook for Pioneer Clubs Leaders (item #2799).
The second step is to plan for times when rules aren’t followed. Yes, it will happen! Often, reminders are enough. But you don’t want to get in a rut. After perhaps two reminders, you may want to offer club members a choice of following the rule or accepting some logical consequence of not following it. This puts responsibility for club members’ behavior where it belongs—with them.
Natural consequences are things that happen if you don’t interfere in a situation: If club members keep spinning in circles, they get dizzy. Logical consequences are things that you (or you and club members together) decide would logically follow misbehavior.
Different from Punishment
Logical consequences aren’t the same as punishment. Punishment may deter unhelpful behavior but doesn’t do much to build positive behavior or responsibility and can also damage your relationship with the club members.
- reflect the needs of the situation
- are logically connected to the behavior
- teach, guide, help children learn responsibility
- are respectful, allow children to choose
- are implemented in a considerate way
- “You may stop drawing on your neighbor’s paper or you may move to the other table.”
- “When you raise your hand, then I will call on you.”
- reflects the personal wishes or power of the person in authority
- is arbitrary, does not logically follow
- penalizes or gets back at
- dominates or attempts to force
- is often implemented in an angry, shaming or judgmental way
- “I’ve had it! Go to the other table right now!”
- “You’re not raising your hand, so no snack for you.”
Choosing Logical Consequences
To choose logical consequences, use your imagination and ask yourself what some logical results of a certain behavior might be. With some explanation and examples, older club members may be able to help you choose. When they help choose, they are more likely to accept consequences.
After you’ve chosen logical consequences for each rule, let club members know what they are.
Rule: One person talks at a time.
Possible logical consequences:
- Club members talking out of turn are not acknowledged.
- Club members persistently talking with each other when someone else is talking are separated.
- If the problem persists, the club member sits apart from the group for a while.
Rule: We call each other only by proper names or kind nicknames.
Possible logical consequences:
- Unkind names directed to the club leader are not acknowledged.
- Club members who call someone a name might have the choice of apologizing, finding an appropriate way to express themselves, saying something kind about the person or remaining silent for a few minutes.
- If the problem persists, the club member might miss a few minutes of the meeting, discussing with the club coordinator how we can help or hurt others with our tongues.
Because logical consequences are not intended to punish, but to help club members learn to make responsible decisions, it’s good to give club members a choice about their behavior. They may follow the rules or they may continue the misbehavior, which brings a logical consequence. Here are possible wordings:
- Either you may do such-and-such or you may do such-and-such. You choose.”
- When you do such-and-such, then you may do such-and-such.”
- Club members are on their way to the sanctuary to see a video. They start yelling to each other about who is going to sit where. You stop the group. “When you are quiet, then we can go to the sanctuary.”
- Club member bangs the oven door each time she checks her cookies. You’ve explained why it’s important to close it gently. Now you say, “You may close the door gently or you may let me take care of your cookies. You decide.”
Implementing a Logical Consequence
After you give a choice once, implement the logical consequence if the club member continues the behavior. Don’t give in to begging; just assure the child he or she may try again later. This shows confidence in the child and his or her ability to learn and solve problems.
When implementing a logical consequence, be firm and considerate, not cold and disapproving.
- The group starts off for the sanctuary again and begins yelling again. You stop and wait, without saying anything. Club members protest that they’re going to be late. You calmly say, “We will go when you are quiet.”
- Club member continues banging the oven door. You say, “I’ll take care of your cookies for today. You may try again the next time we cook.”
Each time a child repeats the unacceptable behavior, you may want to let the logical consequence be in effect a little longer before he or she has a chance to try again. To avoid discouragement or a power struggle, however, find time to listen to the child and talk over possible solutions.
With some thought and planning, you can use logical consequences to help and train club members this year.