Despite all your proactive strategies to prevent misbehavior, students will break the rules. They will forget, become unsure, and test limits. Be ready to follow up with logical consequences.

Logical consequences are a way to help fix problems that result from students' words and actions when they break or forget rules. They help students regain self-control, reflect on their mistakes, and make amends for them. Logical consequences should be respectful of the student, relevant to the situation, and reasonable in scale.

Here are three types to consider:

  • You break it, you fix it can be used to mend emotional messes as well as physical messes. A child can rebuild a block tower after accidentally knocking it over. A student can repair hurt feelings with an apology of action. An apology of action may be doing something to soothe the injury, such as drawing a picture or playing a game.

  • Temporary loss of privilege is a simple way to help a student remember to use that privilege (art materials, recess, group time) responsibly. Losing a privilege for a class period or a day can help a child pause to remember or relearn a rule.

  • Time-out or "take a break" is a strategy to help students learn self-control. A student who is disrupting the work of the group is asked to leave for a few minutes. Give the student a chance to regain composure and rejoin the group on his or her own.


This article originally appeared in Teacher magazine.