We have all been there – throwing down the threats that we never intend to follow through on or throwing out discipline rules that our children just laugh at, as we let the steam blow out of our ears. Instead of letting your children walk all over you, try these simple discipline rules, which while out of the ordinary, will render you the behavior that you desire out of your children.
Give Responsibilities Rather than Time Outs
Time outs seem to have lost their effectiveness over the years, probably due to overuse. Instead, try something different. Either have a bucket with slips of paper that have chores written on them, or have a specific bucket with “time in” activities in them. Your child must complete the chore or task before they can go back to what they were doing. This serves two purposes: gives them time to cool down and teaches them that their actions were not acceptable so they needed to be diverted.
Whisper When your Child is Whining
We all hate whining and temper tantrums, yet have no one has found the surefire way to put an end to them. If you are at wits end, try this trick: the next time your child is in the middle of a fit and wants something NOW, whisper to him. He will not be able to hear you over his tantrum which at first will make him even madder. After a minute or two, however, he will figure out that he needs to quiet down in order to hear you. Now you are being listened to and the tantrum is over – it’s a win-win.
Create an “I’m Bored” Jar
Those dreaded words “I’m bored” grate on every parent’s nerves. Rather than trying to reason with your child or just sending him off to his room, create an “I’m Bored Jar.” In this jar you can have either slips of paper or popsicle sticks, each of which have activities written on them. The next time your child whines to you that he is bored, point to the jar and make him pick something out. Whatever he chooses he must do for the time that you determine. Soon enough he will figure out how to entertain himself.
Put Items “Away”
If your child is constantly forgetting to clean up after himself, do it for him. Only your method doesn’t only require you to put it in its right spot, but to take away rights to that item for a specified amount of time. Have a designated area for items that are “taken away” and let your child know what he needs to do in order to get them back. You can assign chores or just give a specific amount of time that must pass before he can have it back again.
Set Rules for Interruptions
We have all been there – trying to have a conversation with another adult to the tune of persistent begging, pleading, and cajoling for your attention. Rather than stopping your conversation and giving your child the attention he negatively acted to obtain, set a standard rule in the house: “No interrupting with words; instead, gently tap the parent on the leg or hand (whatever you determine) to let the parent know you need to speak to them. You can then acknowledge your child with a finger or a smile; this lets him know that you know he wants to speak to you and you will do so in a minute.” Remember then, that it is your job to make him wait only an appropriate amount of time, say a minute or two, rather than until you finish the conversation.
Ignore the Bad Behavior
This rule will likely be harder for you to handle than your child, but it’s an important one! Your child acts negatively because he wants attention. Guess what? You typically provide that negative attention by turning to him and yelling “Stop it,” or “Just a minute” or whatever words you may use to put an end to the behavior. But if your child gets ignored when he is behaving appropriately, he thinks the only way to behave is to be bad. Starting today, try to reward good behavior that comes out of the blue. Don’t go overboard, but make sure to pay attention and offer nice comments and small rewards for a job well done and you will notice your child doing good things more often than bad.
This might seem counterintuitive, but go ahead and agree with your child. There is going to be a time when he says “But everyone has such and such,” or “I’m the only one who cannot go.” Your response should be “I know” or something similar – do not argue and say that you know he is not the only one or even try to prove your point. Simply agree with your child and watch him stop dead in his tracks. This does not mean that you are going to change your rules or your mind, it just lets your child know that you agree with his thinking, but your rules still stand. It will make him argue with you less and instead stew over your rules, which hopefully are non-negotiable.
We all have consequences that we set for our children, but sometimes kids just think they are too unfair or find that they cannot live with the consequence. If you want to teach your child to have responsibilities and to make difficult choices, offer him a few options that will allow him to “get out” of his consequence. The options that you provide should be something that helps you around the house and shows your child responsibility. A few examples include: folding laundry, empty the dishwasher, scrub the toilet, vacuum the rugs, etc.. Each of these chores should be assigned a value that you determine. For example, if your child lost television privileges for 3 days and wants to earn it back, let him know how many chores he will have to complete to satisfy the 3 days and allow him to watch TV again. This way he can decide for himself which punishment he would prefer.
Using these unique discipline rules will help you to teach your child responsibility as well as show that you do not mess around with bad behavior. They are not your traditional rules, but they have worked on thousands of children already. If you are struggling, try a few of these to see how your child’s behavior improves!
Written by Stephanie Clark