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March 7, 2005

This lunchtime we had a discussion about a friend, J, and her daughter K.
Now K seemingly hasn’t been studying as hard as she could because she had not thought about the results of her actions. So my question is ‘How do we learn about consequences?’.

My little one will now not touch things which are hot. Which is almost instinctive. I think.

Most theorists class consequences into 2 groups: Natural and Logical. I think the first of these is learnt by simply not being rescued by your parents, i.e. hot things hurt, clothes get wet if you stand in the rain. But the logical ones are the hardest to instil.

These are to do with consequences which people will not understand until they experience it. They show what will happen based on a person’s behaviour.

The question then is whether to use bribery or fear to enforce and follow through on logical consequences:

1. “If you shut the door, you can have lunch at McDonalds (yuck!) tomorrow”
2. “Shut that door or I’ll hit you”

Personally I think the former works, but then children may get into the habit of expecting a reward for all their actions, and not just doing something because they should.

So I think there will be a 3rd approach which goes something like this:

3. “Please shut that door because you’ll feel cold”

Now this may not have an immediate effect, but sometimes you have to let them go and understand the natural consequences of being cold.

So coming back to how a child learns about studying? For me, it was the fear of failure which drove me. I failed my first year at University and not wanting to go through that again was enough to force me to focus. I think sometimes ridicule or perceived ridicule from peers is what drive children as opposed to the fear or bribery stick wielded by parents.


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  1. I think its also personality of the kid. Me and my sister were always self motivated to do well in school. We grew up in a third world country.But my cousin, who is very close to both of us, simply chooses to waste away his academic career as an undecided major in a reknowned american university! He has no motivation whatsoever. Although, none of us were ever really told by our parents that we have to do well…me and my sister decided on our own…my cousin chose not to. So you see, its probably more of the personality, upbringing, environment in which a child discovers him/herself. If the child has a mind of his/her own and a mature one I might mention…he/she will definitely realize the ‘consequences‘ of studying or wasting away life on his/her own..dont u think?

  2. You know what Sameen. I think you may be right. But I am worried that as a parent, my child won‘t understand consequences. And that by controlling how a child is brought up, that will cause her/him to understand. Or at least the control freak in me would like to think so. At what point do you think a parent should let go?

  3. I don‘t know how parents do it. I dont want to even think about when I‘ll be a parent. I am scared I won‘t know what to do or I wont give them enough time. I want to find a good father for my Inshallah future children.

  4. "For me, it was the fear of failure which drove me."

    But sometimes it does work weirdly.. like right now, I am just so upset and pissed at my advanced photography prof. Her attitude towards me is just so bad that I know she‘s taken my presence in her class in a personal way (she being lesbian and I being a headscarved girl?!?!). She‘s never happy the way I print and god forbid if I have an opinion, she will HAVE to look down on me just because she‘s controlling my marks… And I even feel like shes controlling my love for photography. Right now, she can be a sole person to destroy my interest in it… (mind you, other profs who saw my works so far appreciated)… she gave me a B+ (I could have gotten better grade I know) but that didn‘t stop her from behaving rude to me because I missed few classes due to headaches (I‘m wearing glasses now, so Im a bit fixed)…

    " I failed my first year at University and not wanting to go through that again was enough to force me to focus. "

    … it doesnt have to be failing something… it can be something you love, but someone totally destroying that love can lead you to NOT focus on that anymore? Like now, I‘m rethinking if I should bother applying to MA in photography at all!! I mean, I feel like hell with it right now!

  5. You know what Nazzina…I think you should do your MA. Bear in mind that prejudices will always exist and the true purpose of the lens is to show things without prejudice. Editors of course will change that, but that‘s what photography is about.

  6. \"At what point do you think a parent should let go?\"
    To a certain extent, parents should probably never let go. Be in the background. Be ther for your kid. But dont control your kid\‘s life! Tell your kid what you think is right, and what you think is wrong. What u have to keep in mind is that maybe your kid will grow up and have differnt opinions than u. But its your responsibility to help your child grow up into a mature adult by showing your child what u think is right or wrong. You dont have to \‘teach\‘ your kid consequences, thats something we learn on our own by experience. You simply have to show your child the way, so that your child can form his own ideas…:) But Im not a parent…just speaking from a kid\‘s point of view(and actually I have a sister who is 9 yrs younger than me…so that gives me some experience)! hehe! So Im sure your parental instincts will know better…just my two cents:)

  7. Thank Sameen. I hope my parental instincts do kick in…but you know, after a hard days work and a 2 hour journey home….those parental instincts seem to have been left in the office! 😉

    Seriously though, I know I will instil my value system into the child, but is that right or wrong? Should the child be allowed to develop their own set of morals?

  8. hmmm…Im not sure if there really is a right or wrong when bringing up a child! But yeah, I think u should totally instill ur valuse system in your child…cos initially ur kid will have to have an ideal to look up to…eventually im sure your child will have an individual sense of morals, but u definitely have to be the guiding light;) and even if ure really tired after work…dont forget whats more important…work or family? 😉

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