One of the first words each of my kids learned to say was the word “no.” They would say no even when they meant yes. “Would you like a cookie?” “No!” It’s very cute when they are two, or at least I thought so.
As they got older, I found that they would go through stages. They still do go through stages. There are different stages they go through — one being where they have great attitudes and work together with us with minimal complaints. Then there are stages where they seem to defy every request, expectation, and even reason in general.
We’ve also got one child — our oldest — who is on the cusp of becoming a teenager. The hormones have started and our usually laid back and compliant child will act totally out of character. We’ll ask him why he did or said something and his response will be “I don’t know.”
While all three of our kids are pretty great all-around, they are not perfect. They will push boundaries to see if they are still there, and they will do or say something that we’ve communicated to be inappropriate or disrespectful. We don’t practice corporal punishment in our house, but we believe that there should be consequences for willful defiance or behaving inappropriately. What are those consequences? Here they are.
1. A time out. When they were little, I’d have them sit on the stairs in our kitchen. As they got older, I would send them to their room to think about what they’ve done. A parenting expert recommended a minute for each year of their age (seven years old = seven minutes). It gives them time to think, and me time to think about what to talk about. Then I’ll go in their room, we’ll talk, and have a big hug. Then I’ll usually do or say something to make them laugh to break the tension.
2. Consequences. If I say “we’re not doing X unless you do Y” and they refuse to do Y, then Y doesn’t happen. They learned that one pretty quickly, because we follow through.
3. A family meeting. If all three of them are pushing buttons, we’ll sit down as a family and talk about it. We try to determine the root of it, and decide how we’re going to go forward.
How does discipline work in your house?