If you speed, you get a ticket…

Posted September 18, 2015 by

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We talk a lot about “natural consequences” at Empowering Parents, but what does it really mean?

Doesn’t it mean I’m a bad parent if I let my kid fail?

No! You’re a great parent because you’re teaching your child valuable life skills.

Parents ineffectively prepare kids for adulthood by not allowing them to face the natural consequences of their actions.

Natural consequences can best be described as the logical outcome of a decision your child makes. Failing a test because of not studying, for example. When you allow your child to face natural consequences, you do two very important things:

  1. You relieve some of the pressure that’s on you to create consequences (doesn’t that sound nice?)
  2. You help your child learn what happens when they make their own choices. 

One of my favorite articles to send parents is Why You Should Let Your Child Fail: The Benefits of Natural Consequences. It explains why natural consequences are one of the best tools parents can use to teach kids how to prepare for the real world.

Of course, there will be situations where natural consequences aren’t a good fit — especially when your child’s decision poses a safety risk or is likely to have a long-term, negative effect. For help with setting consequences, we recommend following “The Alternative Response.” This extremely effective technique, taken from our best selling child behavior program The Total Transformation, will help your child learn accountability and develop problem-solving skills.

Remember, we’re here to help support and guide you. You got this!


Marissa S., Empowering Parents Coach
Learn more about 1-on-1 Coaching

Quote of the Week! “A speeding ticket is a natural consequence. If you go too fast, the policeman stops you and gives you a ticket. He doesn’t follow you home to make sure you don’t speed anymore. He lets you go. It’s your job to stop and take responsibility.” — James Lehman, MSW


Marissa is a proud mom to two boys, age 10 and 5. She earned her degree in Sociology from Saint Joseph’s College of Maine and has been a 1-on-1 Coach since 2011. Prior to coming to Empowering Parents, Marissa gained experience working as the House Manager of a group home for teenage boys, as a Children’s Mental Health Case Manager, and also spent several years working on the Children’s Unit at a Psych. Hospital.

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  1. Mike Report

    I need some advice. We pay 75% of my 20 year old
    son’s college tuition including room and board. He pays the balance through
    scholarships and a student loan. We also pay his healthcare insurance. He earns
    a reasonable amount of money working part-time on campus and during the summer
    breaks. We have encouraged him to save most of his part-time earnings or use it
    to make payments towards his student loan. We think its ok for him to use some
    of his money for fun, but most of it should be saved for necessities while he’s
    still in school. Instead of following our advice he continues to spend much of
    his earnings on designer clothes, electronic devices and entertainment. In
    addition, he has frequently overdrawn on his checking account and has incurred
    heavy bank fees. During the past two years there have been additional costs
    which we have paid; such as, doctor bill co-payments, and buying him supplies
    and clothes at the beginning of each semester. Since he is being frivolous and
    extravagant with his money, and not showing any financial responsibility, I do
    not feel we should continue to pay for his extra expenses other than his
    tuition. For example, he recently went to the doctor for strep throat which
    cost $200. A few weeks later he went shopping at Nordstrom’s and spent $170 of
    his money on designer clothes. Since he has money to shop at Nordstrom’s I
    think he should pay his own doctor bill instead of asking us to pay. If he was
    saving his money or using it to pay towards his student loan I would not have a
    problem paying his $200 doctor bill.  I would like other opinions on this

    • Empowering Parents Coach Marissa Stephens, 1-on-1 Coach Report


      It can be extremely frustrating to watch your child spend
      money frivolously, knowing that the money could be used for other, more
      practical expenses. When a parent continues to pay for these practical
      expenses, such as medical bills, it really reinforces to the child that he or
      she doesn’t have to pay for them. We would support you in your plan to stop
      paying for these expenses for your son. It may be helpful to let him know ahead
      of time, for example, “Starting tomorrow, we are no longer going to pay for….”.
      Keep in mind, your son may still make poor choices in how he chooses to spend
      his money, so we would encourage you to let him deal with the natural
      consequences of those choices. Thanks for writing in with your question.



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