Logical Consequences

Logical ConsequencesIn the midst of my very hectic first year of school, I was given a rather intimidating assignment from one of my professors at Regis University: I was to construct not just one, but two brochures on the topic of behavior management programs and philosophies. With my hands already full trying to manage two different classes of 43 students and masses of papers to grade on the weekend, you can probably guess that I wasn’t real thrilled with the additional burden of constructing a couple of brochures from scratch.  As I began thumbing through endless web literature on behavior management programs, I found one that made very good sense to me: Logical Consequences by, Rudolf Dreikurs. When raising my own children, I learned some valuable lessons the hard way. As with teaching, there is no substitute for parental experience. I think most of us made the same mistakes early-on in wanting to do everything for our children. When they weren’t doing what they were told we often interrupted their behavior and inflicted some type of punishment which had absolutely nothing to do with the consequences of their own actions. Obviously, there are situations when it would be dangerous to do otherwise and we need to intervene for the physical and/or psychological well-being of the child. I quickly saw, however, that I let many harmless opportunities go by to teach my own kids a valuable lesson by allowing them to experience the consequences of their own actions.
Is it any different in the classroom? As I read the literature by Rudolf Dreikurs, I began reflecting on some of the behavior problems with my two fourth grade classes. When undesirable behavior occurred, who was the one paying the consequences? Clearly, me. In an effort, to right their wrongs, I was the one who was doing all the work. This was not always about correcting wrong behavior, but putting forth the energy to stop it before it even happened. I was constantly raising my voice to get them to line-up, threatening to take privileges away, and expounding countless minutes making sure they didn’t do the wrong thing. I was allowing my own stress and anxiety to be their only consequence. They were only too happy to let me continue carrying-on like a frantic and paranoid rookie while knowing how desperately concerned I was about their own welfare. Why should they worry when I was worrying for them? What was once a burdensome teaching assignment became a blessed learning experience, and a turning point for how I would manage my own class the rest of the year.


I designed mLogical Consequences Four Mistaken Goalsy brochure using a tri-fold brochure template in Microsoft Word. I used our Notre Dame school colors and wrote the brochure as if this was going to be send out to all of the parents. One of the important aspects of a teacher carrying out such a behavior philosophy is to engage in completely honest communication and cooperation with the parents. Logical consequences need to be followed both at home and at school. Below are excerpts from my brochure. I’ve attached snip-its of the actual brochure, since the tri-fold format does not lend itself well to a blog format.



Logical Consequences

Dear 4th Grade Parents:

Logical Consequences Letter to ParentsAs a 4th grade teacher, I recognize that nothing is more important to your child’s educational development than a healthy, learning environment. Teachers are very fortunate to have access to dozens of excellent books and resources on effective classroom management. The good news is that the very same logic and processes used in these teaching resources are effective tools for parents as well. By working together, teachers and parents can establish effective and consistent behavior habits at home and in the classroom. By using and adhering to the principals of Logical Consequences, we can establish behavior habits that children can grow with, both at home, and in the classroom.

Logical Consequences is a behavior philosophy that was founded by Rudolf Dreikurs, a behavior psychiatrist, who believed that all human behavior is orderly, purposeful and directed towards social approval. We all have our own interpretations of the world in which we live. So, rather than respond to the world that surrounds us, we base our actions on our own view of our environment. The result is that we sometimes behave or misbehave in a manner that best suits our own interpretation of the world rather than what is best for us and others.
Logical Consequences What and How

Dreikurs believed that we should emphasize encouragement over praise and punishment. Encouragement acknowledges effort, helps children recognize their own performance and stimulates cooperation and helpfulness among peers, teachers and parents. The whole idea is to empower our children and allow them to learn and experience the natural rewards and consequences of their own behavior.

As parents and teachers who practice this philosophy at home and in the classroom, we will soon see the rewards of a system that works. Logical consequences are the natural and inevitable way for all of us to learn and succeed in life. The only question is when do we put our confidence in the truth of nature and give it a chance to work?

“By working together, teachers and parents

can establish effective and consistent behavior

habits at home and in the classroom.”

Four Mistaken Goals of Children who misbehave:

  1. Attention Getting
  2. Power
  3. Revenge
  4. Inadequacy

… Rudolf Dreikurs

When asked how he can keep putting children in these boxes known as, Mistaken Goals, Rudolf Dreikurs replied, “I don’t keep putting them there, I keep finding them there.

Logical Consequences


Logical Consequences Resources

–       Middle East Technical University

–       Cal State University

–       UC Santa Barbara


What it means…

Every action has a consequence. Only favorable behavior results in favorable results. Children learn that their behavior is the result of their own logical choice. By experience natural consequences children learn to take ownership of their own behavior.


How it works…

For starters, a healthy relationship with the child or student is important. When children or students misbehave it is important that the consequences they face are perceived by them as the natural result of their own behavior. Their trust and safety in both the teacher and parent is a requirement.

How to get started…

Putting the mechanisms in place requires time and patience. Both parents and teachers often want to help and do things for our children and students. Getting started, means we sometimes have to put aside our natural impulse to help our children.


Applying Logical Consequences in a Classroom Setting

If you’re a teacher, I’m sure you’ve already recognized realistic situations in your classroom where logical consequences can be easily applied to fit the behavior. Recognizing that unnatural consequences always resulted in chaos, stress, and me having to yell a lot, I decided to take a calmer approach the rest of the year.  Appropriate and natural punishment never has to raise its voice.  One thing that it does require sometimes, though,  is  patience on the part of a teacher or parent. Here are just a few situations where I put this philosophy to work.

Lining up for Lunch and Recess

You would think kids would be thrilled to get to the lunchroom as soon as possible. But, why should they be in a hurry if their teacher is doing all the work to get them quiet and ready?  One day I decided to take the advice of my sister, a 13-year teaching veteran. I very calmly told my 4th graders that they would have to be completely silent and lined-up in front of the door before we would leave for lunch.  I explained that I wasn’t going to waste my time quieting them down. There was still talking, but instead of reminding them a third time I went to my desk and started grading papers.  After a couple of minutes went by, the classroom became completely silent. I stood up and said, ‘well, it looks like we’re ready to go.” I reminded them that they lost two minutes of their lunch and that maybe next time they’ll do better.  Of course, this required some sacrifice on my part. I lost 2 minutes of my own lunch. The good news is that it only has to happen once or twice.

Talking in Hallways

There is nothing more embarrassing for a teacher than to have your students interrupting another classroom with talking down the halls. I had a strict policy against talking.  I addressed this by making the entire class go all the way back to the classroom for any noise or talking. The problem is that unlike lunch and recess, going to some of their specials classes was not one of their favorite things to do. Of course, many of them were more than happy to stall as much as they could. In some cases, I would simply make the one person who talked go all the way to the back of the line.My solution for this next year is to communicate with their specials teachers about being late to class. Their natural consequences will be imposed by their teacher who counts them tardy or gives them an assignment, etc.

Missing Names on Papers

Why is it so difficult for fourth graders to remember to put their names on their assignments, homework, and tests? This was a problem that plagued me the entire school year. At first, I was not helping the problem by constantly reminding them to put their names on the paper. A logical consequence for a missing name is that the paper cannot be graded, so it is considered late and marked down. Even with a 20% late penalty, I continued to receive nameless papers throughout the year.

Teachers, please share your own ideas and experiences of the Logical Consequences behavior philosophy below.  I would love to hear from you.

2 thoughts on “Logical Consequences

  1. One of the things I do is issue an extra assignment to any student caught not listening. I warn them ahead ofvtime and calmly explain that I will need to do this since it is my job to make sure they learn the lesson. If they are not learning during the lecture because they are playing, they will have to take home the extra work that will help them to learn what they missed. I tell them that it is like trading time. If they waste time during the lecture, they will have to make up that time later on.

    If they are noisy in the hall and a teacher has to close a classroom door as a result, they must apologise to that class later. I send the noisy student or students to the classroom to apologise in front of the whole class. This is never fun.

    One thing our sixth grade teacher did as a natural consequence is make the students stand on a line during recess and stare at the mountains in order to ponder their significance in the universe. The idea is that is they are so important that they can be a disruption, then maybe they need time to reflect upon their greatness in the face of God’s creation.

    If my students are playing instead of getting ready for the new day, they are not called to put their backpacks away and sharpen pencils and must find a convenient place inside of the room to put their backpack once they realuze they missed the opportunity. They know ahead of time that I only call quiet and attentive students to take care of their morning business such as locker, pencil sharpening, bathroom, etc. if they are off task they lose this opportunity.

    I always tell my students that parents need to know when they are not doing what they are supposed to be doing. Therefore, they must write a note explaining their own bad behavior. The note must be signed and returned so the teacher knows the parent received the note. Prior to the note going home, I check for thoroughness and honesty, and I sign as well. If the note does not come back signed, a note through our online system will be sent explaining that the child did not follow through with consequences as directed and therefore was not honest. The consequences continue to worsen with each neglected duty, and that is a natural consequence for not doing the right thing to begin with. The students know the rules ahead iof time.

    • Dina,

      Thank you so much for sharing. These are extremely detailed and valuable consequences that I have not considered before. I am sure many of us teachers will have much to gain from this valuable advice.

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