boxerIt’s a word that can make the strongest parent quake in their boots….discipline.  

Whether you have a strong willed or compliant child, you will need to have a strategy for disciplining kids.

Yes, a strategy. 

Don’t just discipline by your feelings or in a haphazard way.  Plan how you will respond when your child misbehaves.  Use these 2 key questions when disciplining your kids:

Question #1:  Was the offense a result of poor planning or carelessness, or defiance and disrespect?

If your child knocks over a glass of milk on accident, then he or she should help clean it up.  No harsh words need to be spoken.  Case closed.

But if your child knocks over the glass of milk on purpose, that’s a whole different matter.  The child who thinks “You can’t make me drink this” and then knocks over the glass needs a punishment.  It needs to be swift and effective. Perhaps something like cleaning up the milk, apologizing, and then foregoing his/her beloved juice or soda for a week.

The teenager who forgets to take out the trash because she was distracted studying for a mid-term needs a different discipline than the teen who’s been watching TV for hours and says she forgot.

If you are having trouble thinking of a good or new consequence, ask this second question:

Question #2:  What can I take away or what can I add?

What can I take away from my child…for the above teen who forgot to take out the trash but remembered to watch TV, you can take away TV for the next day.  If you are having constant battles over TV viewing or video game playing, you can take away devices for a set period of time.  Don’t feel bad about being the heavy.  Chances are you are paying for your child’s device and cable, and you certainly have the right to take it away.

Here are a few things you can consider taking away:  

  • Video games
  • TV watching
  • Future play date (that gives the other family enough notice)
  • Privilege delayed
  • Junk food / Soda
  • Electronic device
  • Toys
  • Favorite t-shirt/clothes

You can also do the opposite: add something to your child’s schedule.  Things you can add are: 

  • Extra chores
  • Community service
  • Homework like math drills or spelling
  • Serving a sibling (i.e. doing their laundry) – this is especially good if the offense was towards a sibling

You might ask, “If those things become punishments, won’t they view those activities negatively?”

Not really.  I know a family that required community service for their teenager.  The hours spent serving taught that boy that he had to make restitution for his offense.  And in time, it also taught him the satisfaction that comes from serving others.  So actually, requiring extra from your child introduces them to a work ethic and responsibility, and many times, they learn to like the service.

I think this definition from Merriam Webster is helpful about discipline:

  1. Training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character
  2. Control gained by enforcing obedience
  3. Orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior
  4. Self-control

In that light, discipline isn’t an intimidating word.  It’s a word I want lived out in my home.

Embrace discipline…ask yourself these questions…and be consistent with your consequences.

Arlene Pellicane

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