Search form

Responsive Classroom Strategies

Examples of
Logical Consequences

Before reading this article, you might want to review Ruth Charney's earlier articles, Logical Consequences Teach Important Lessons and The Three R's of Logical Consequences.

Logical consequences, as we learned in the last two articles, are ways in which adults structure learning opportunities for children. The goal of logical consequences is to stop children's misbehavior and help them make more constructive choices.

To apply consequences effectively, adults need to behave in a thoughtful and reflective manner. Remember, in that moment when the hall is wet with water fountain spray or defiant words are ringing in our ears, our first responses might be less than reasoned. At that moment, we contemplate Siberia. At that moment, only the first step is invoked: STOP. We might send the student to his or her seat or to a time-out chair, letting the student know that we will think about the consequences later. Again, it might take time and collaboration.

There is no one-size-fits-all consequence. Even with consistency, we need to consider individual factors. Is this a first-time behavior? Did it occur because of something programmatic or situational? For example, I recently noticed that, in one classroom, children were lining up next to a sink area in an area that was too crowded. The disruptions that occurred were greatly decreased and the procedure went more quickly when the line-up area was redesigned. Although there is no perfect recipe, there are a few general categories that can help us consider effective implementation of logical consequences.


Below are three kinds of logical consequences, along with a few examples of each. The examples are not exhaustive, and there always can be variations on a theme.

You Break It --You Fix It
Children take some responsibility for fixing, as best they can, any problem or mess they have created. Some examples:

  • One child accidentally knocks into another on the playground. She stops, apologizes and offers to help the other child get up.
  • A student knocks over a tray of food carried by another student. He helps clean it up and perhaps offers to go back and get new food.
  • A child hurts the feelings of another. She participates in "an apology of action" by writing a note, including the hurt child in a friendly activity
  • A student is part of a conflict. The students involved participate in a conflict resolution process.
  • A student wastes class time talking to a friend, looking out the window, trying to avoid the task. He makes up the time at another point during the day.

Loss of Privilege
In classrooms in which children help generate and construct the rules together, a sense of shared responsibility and trust exists. When students do not "take care of the rules," the logical consequence might be to lose a privilege. Examples:

  • A student waves scissors around. She loses the use of the scissors for the remainder of the art period.
  • Two children talk instead of working. They have to sit by themselves.
  • A child rocks his chair or sits way back in his chair. He sits on the floor or stands for the remainder of the lesson or activity.
  • A student plays unsafely on an outdoor structure. She has to choose a different area of the playground to use during the rest of that recess.
  • A student speaks rudely to the teacher. The teacher refuses to listen to her until she changes her tone of voice.
  • A student rolls his eyes or calls out during a morning meeting. He has to leave the group.
  • A student fools around on line. She has to walk with the teacher.
  • A student logs on to an acceptable Web site while doing research. He loses computer time for the rest of the period (or week).
  • Students go to the bathroom to gossip about classmates. They lose the privilege of going to the bathroom together or without an adult for the next couple of days.

Time-Out or Take a Break
A student who is on the verge of losing control and beginning to disrupt and disturb their own and others' ability to learn is asked to leave the scene and "take a break." The student may return when he or she appears to have regained controls and is ready to participate in a positive way. Time out might be instituted when a student

  • whispers to a neighbor while another student is sharing information.
  • ignores the quiet signal.
  • calls out answers, denying others the chance to think.
  • makes a snide remark about another student's response to a question.
  • persists in argument or negotiation with the teacher after clearly being told to stop.
  • whips the ball when the instructions are for underhand throws.


Please note that the loss of recess is rarely a logical consequence. It might be the logical outcome when students disregard recess rules, do not play safely, or waste time circling up and responding to the whistle. I have found it more helpful to have students practice a recess skill (safe ball throwing) or efficient lineups, rather than keep them in from recess. Often, students with the most marginal controls are the ones who most need physical outlets. The loss of recess can create more problems than it fixes.

Removing a student from an activity and suggesting that he or she think about a proper logical consequence is OK. I like the question, "What do you think will help you do better with ___ ?" It is the adult 's job, however, to actually determine the logical consequence. Students tend to be far more harsh and unreasonable than adults.

Practice with students how to go to time out or take a break, so it is effective.

Let children know often and consistently that logical consequences focus on behavior, not character. "I like you; I don't like it when you push others."

Always try to implement consequences with empathy for the rule breaker. It often is important for me to "sleep on it," so I feel prepared to instruct and not punish.


Education World®             
Copyright © 2011 Education World