“There will be consequences!”
You might have heard your parent or teacher say that to you. That adult was letting you know your actions would lead to a result. Some consequences come directly from another person. Others happen naturally because of something you did. Either way, these experiences can be important chances to learn.
Dona Matthews thinks so! She’s an author and psychologist who has written about consequences. Matthews spoke with News-O-Matic for our final article in our social and emotional learning (SEL) series. She gave tips about understanding consequences — and how you should feel when you get them.
Types of Consequences
“Natural consequences are the results of your actions,” Matthews said. “They’re not imposed by anyone else. If you refuse to wear a coat on a rainy day, the natural consequence is getting wet and uncomfortable. With a natural consequence, you have no one to blame but yourself.
“Logical consequences are also the result of your actions. But someone else imposes them. They are logical because they make sense. For example, your mom says you can’t watch a video until you’ve finished homework. But you watch one anyway. It makes sense that you lose screen privileges for the day.”
Learning from Consequences
“People learn about themselves from people’s reactions to their actions,” Matthews said. “Consequences can help you learn how to behave in a way that will be good for you. They can be positive lessons.
“If consequences are loving and make sense, your self-awareness will improve. You’ll understand yourself more. If you experience reasonable consequences, you will learn to make responsible decisions. Sometimes consequences are not reasonable. But even then, there is usually some kind of useful lesson.”
Making Sense of Consequences
“If you are confused about the consequences you’re receiving, you can ask the person who’s giving you the consequences,” Matthews said. “Ask if you can talk about something that is bothering you. If you can be patient and respectful, you might learn about what’s going on and why.”
“People build social awareness from their encounters with others,” Matthews said. “Every time you interact with someone, you learn about how other people think and how your actions impact them,” the expert added. “Your self-awareness will improve. When you understand consequences of your actions, you’re much better able to act in ways that help others.”
Updated September 7, 2020, 5:02 P.M. (ET)
By Mathis Bauchner