A boy scoops a large quantity of macaroni onto his plate.Adult's Role

Once a learner's emotional level has reached the age of two years or above, the phase of consequences can be introduced. 

The adult needs to model how consequences work for the learner through a discussion of the adult’s actions. For example, stating to the learner, “I have to stop playing and cook dinner, or you will not have anything to eat.” Or, “I need to ask you to wait; I need to find a clean shirt for you.”

Then after a time the adult begins to set up situations where the learner can experience the consequences of his/her actions. For example, “If you want me to pour more milk, you must put your glass on the table.”

General Guidance

The adult may accept a less than perfect response from the learner, and may need to offer encouragement either through prompting or modeling. For example, “See you can put your glass here.” The learner begins to understand choice-making. 

Another real life example, a child with cerebral palsy uses a walker, but sometimes uses a wheelchair for longer trips.  This child asks to walk to a restaurant a short distance from his home. The child is given the choice of using his walker or wheelchair, and the child decides to use the walker.  The adult explains that it is a longer trip, and if the child get tired the adult cannot carry the child.  He will have to walk the entire distance.  The child continues to decide to use his walker.  Halfway to the restaurant the child sits down and indicates he cannot walk any further and asks to be carried. The adult explains to the child his is too big to be carried.  The adult further explains that he/she is willing to sit and wait until the child is ready to walk again - even if it takes awhile, but that the adult will not carry him.  The child sits and takes a break, then gets up to walk.  The child must now decide to continue onto the restaurant or return to the home.  The child decides to continue on to the restaurant, knowing that he will have to walk the entire way. 

The child learned the consequences of his decision.  (It is important to understand, if the adult did not feel the child could make the trip, the adult should never have given the child the power to make the decision.)


The purposes of the Phase of Consequence are:

  • to help the learner to endure meeting demands
  • to help the learner endure changes in life
  • to help the learner feel self-confident - which is fundamental in making your own decisions about your life
  • to establish a sense of responsibility

Children at the earliest developmental levels (birth to an emotional level of 2 years) will typically need the adult to utilize the techniques in Phases 1-3. Only when the child is developed emotionally to the level of 24 months will an adult use Phase 4 and then later Phase 5 with the learner.

Phase 5: Consequence

Description: A demonstration of Phase Five, Consequence, from the Active Learning principles; Five Phases of Educational Treatment.

Downloads: Transcript (txt) Audio (mp3)

consequences collage

Return to Five Phases of Educational Treatment.