By Lindsay of Suburban Turmoil
Let’s face it- Too many parents today have, well, “issues” when it comes to disciplining their children. If you don’t believe me, look around you; have you ever seen so many kids calling the shots in public?
Since overhearing moms and dads say, “MacDougal, let’s talk about what’s making you poke me in the eye with your finger over and over again. Are you feeling frustrated?” or “MacDougal, if you keep screaming ‘goddam’ like that, you won’t get your sticker for today,” is one of my pet peeves, I resolved very early on that I would control my kids, rather than the other way around. And while my children certainly aren’t perfect, they are turning out to be pretty darn well behaved, from my 19-month-old wannabe-hellion son all the way up to my 18-year-old stepdaughter. Here are a few tricks I’ve learned along the way.
1. Super Nanny. I like to make fun of Super Nanny’s “Naughty Corner,” but her television technique absolutely works. When my four-year-old, “Punky,” misbehaves, she has to go and stand in the naughty corner for four minutes. Afterward, I get down on eye level with her and let her both say she’s sorry and tell me why she’s sorry. Then we talk about it for a minute, hug and go on with our lives. I only have to use the Naughty Corner once every month or two, but occasionally, I’ve used it far more often, and that’s what I like to (privately) refer to as…
2. Bratty Boot Camp. From time to time, Punky has been, well, bratty, basically talking back and mouthing off all. Day. Long. When this happens, it’s Bratty Boot Camp time! During Bratty Boot Camp, I let nothing go- Punky might find herself in the Naughty Corner three or four times before it’s all over. However, I find that by the time the day has ended, she’s done with the sassiness and back to her sweet self. I assume she’s simply testing her boundaries- Devoting a day every so often to reinforcing what’s right and what’s wrong when your child’s behavior starts to get out of hand has worked very well for me.
3. Be consistent. When my son came along, I finally learned what it was like to have a Challenging Child. The boy has a nose for trouble, and as soon as he started walking, he went looking for it, tearing anything he could find to shreds, throwing tantrums, and lunging for anything in the room he knew he wasn’t supposed to have. It has been tough and tiring, but I’ve said “No,” loudly and firmly every single time he acts up (even in public, where people look at me like I’m pure evil when I tell my little cherub ‘No.’ Screw ‘em.). For months, it seemed like he was completely ignoring me, but suddenly, something clicked. He began listening to me and stopping the bad behavior! I know now that if I had not remained consistent with him, he would probably be one of those kids who slaps his mom’s face in public.
4. Make more deposits in your child’s life than withdrawals. This is my husband’s contribution and it’s at the core of our discipline philosophy. We try to make many, many deposits in our children’s emotional “accounts,” complimenting them, praising them, spending time with them, doing nice things for them- so that when we make a withdrawal and have to reprimand or discipline them, the positives far outweigh the negative. Yes, this concept sounds a bit trite, but think of all the parents that nag and tear down their older children and teens and you begin to see what I mean. Consciously making deposits ensures that your child feels protected and valued and loved, even when you have to discipline him or her.
5. You don’t always know best. It drives me crazy when people say, “You’re her mother; you know what’s best for her.” Actually, I don’t always know what’s best for her. I try to observe other moms and dads when I’m around them and ask questions when I see something that looks like it’s working. At times, I realize that their strategy is better than mine, and I modify my own game plan accordingly. I want to always remain open to change as a parent, and to never have too much pride to realize that someone out there might have a better parenting idea than mine.
And with that in mind, I’d love to hear your own discipline strategies in the comments. What has worked for you? What hasn’t worked? Do you have a Naughty Corner of your own? Tell me about it.
Subscribe to blog via RSS