As parents we have a responsibility to our children to help them grow and learn in a helpful and prepared environment. I’m a busy mom just like a lot of you, but I find taking time to help my children understand issues with discipline is one of my most important roles. Although how we deal with issues change as children grow and learn, I want to share a couple techniques I use to have stress free discipline in our home.
Being a parent is hard! I always knew I wanted to have children and have a background in education, but nothing prepared me to taking on the responsibility of two little human beings with the goal of molding them into productive and polite citizens. Talk about pressure!
I have read countless books, professional articles, blog posts, and magazine techniques on helping to discipline kids. I have sought the guidance of my mother and mother-in-law, aunts, grandparents, friends, and fellow teachers. Through all of this research I have found techniques that seem to work well for our home. Of course all homes are different. What may work for my son (4) may not work for my daughter (2). And what works for both of them may or may not work for your children. It seems like an ever changing process.
One thing that helps me more than anything is to be consistent and in constant study of my children. I recently watched the movie Fireproof. In the movie the guidance states we should constantly study our spouses. Always striving to earn a doctorate degree with the amount we know about them. Their needs, wants, likes, and dislikes. How are our children any different? From the time they were born, and before, I knew everything about them. I want to continue to learn about them in order to help them strive in life. To be happy and fulfilled and to one day look back with joy and glorious memories of being a child in our home. All this study and research molds how I discipline them, because, like it or not, it is a key to a happy family and life for everyone.
One of the most useful discipline techniques in our home is giving responsibility. This helps our children be a working part of our home and keeps them busy, which is an added bonus!
It’s pretty simple really. “Sam, it is your responsibility to be dressed and ready to go by the time I am. We will be leaving in 5 minute.” And nine times out of ten is he dressed and downstairs waiting on me to head out the door. For times that he is not, I continue on my timeline. I give a gentle reminder that he needs to be changed before we leave. It never fails.
This takes a little practice and I would try it on a time you are in a big rush. Also be sure you child can physically get themselves dressed and downstairs without issues. Avalyn is not ready for this responsibility yet. But I do require her to find her shoes and water before we leave.
Discussions are a big part of how we keep our responsibility technique in check. No one likes to be told what to do without reason. We discuss with Samuel and Avalyn why we are doing something and be sure to allow a realistic amount of time. We verify with them there are not any questions with a simple question after we have finished our instructions, “Do you have any questions?”
Sometimes giving responsibility just doesn’t’ work so we like to make the kids apart of the discussion of the consequences. Our conversation may be, “If we don’t finish ____, what do you think should happen?” We rarely have to use this, but it has come up a couple times. For now, we have to give a couple suggesting on appropriate consequences. I see this discussion on responsibility becoming more frequent as our children get older.
Techniques to Help YOU Avoid Getting Upset
As parents, things can really get on our nerves! It can be hard to keep calm when children are just plucking away. Here’s a couple ideas to avoid getting upset.
1. Time Out
Time out is not just a way to help remove a child from an undesirable situation, it is also to help you get your focus. I find myself asking my children to take a time out, usually a couple minutes sitting on the stairs, to give myself a delay with my heated emotions. I want to be productive in my discussion with them and not say something I don’t intend to say.
2. Walk Away
Sometimes the crazy of the house is to much and I have to walk away. This usually means the kids may be left upset and crying in the house (be sure your child is left in a safe room) and I take a walk to the mailbox. Or walk up to my room and close the door until I can refocus. Walking away and coming up with a good plan of action to fix things is a great idea.
3. Set a Timer
Setting a timer works MIRACLES in my life. I’m not sure where I picked it up, but God bless whoever introduced it to me. When we want to move to the next task I let Samuel know I’m setting a timer. Usually I can ask him how long he would like. Now that he is learning higher numbers he will request 100 minutes! Then I come back with a suggestion more like 5 minutes. He then usually says 6 minutes and I agree. He thinks he has made the decision and I know we get to leave in 6 minutes when the timer goes off on my phone. This is perfect for the park. No pleading or offering all kind of rewards or treats. Just a simple conversation, “Sam, I’m going to set the timer for 6 minutes then we are going to leave.” Works like a charm every time.
4. Lead Up Warning
Sometimes I’ll use a lead up warning. “Sam, in 5 minutes we are going to work in the classroom for a while. Can you finish your project please?” This helps me show him I respect the time he is spends working on whatever he is working on and gives him a warning that something is about to change.
5. Be SURE They Heard You
I find myself getting frustrated when my children don’t do as I ask, but found along the way that many time it is because they seriously do no hear me. A lot of times it isn’t that they aren’t listening, it is that they are so into what they are doing they MAY NOT HEAR. Often if Samuel is very focused in his project his senses are heightened toward that project and not what I’m trying to say. I try to get his attention with his name and be sure he is looking at me when I give my request. That helps a lot to keep myself calm.
Stopping the Discussion
I have found recently Samuel has been trying to push and push to get the answer he wants even though I have given him an answer. Typically a no answer or not yet. Here are a couple things that work well for me to stop the discussion and nagging!
1. You Asked, I Answered
This technique been a Godsend. In a nutshell, you give your child an answer to their question. When they ask a second time you remind them of the answer and let them know you are not going to change your mind. If they ask again it is simple “asked and answered” response. That’s it. Discussion is over. It is beautiful. Positive Parenting Solutions has the full article and explanation on how to implement this in your home.
2. 1-2-3 Magic
This is a book we used early on. It works really well with a lot of kids. It is a way to stop the discussion or action you do not want to see. But it is important to use it correctly. Often, I don’t feel like parents use this in the intended way. Please be sure to read up on the technique before you use it with your children so that is as effective as it claims.
We Are The Example
I want to leave you with the idea that we are the example. Children will mimic their parents all the time! So be sure you are respectful to your spouse or strangers. However you want your children to act, you should be doing the same. This is not as easy as it seems, but I find if our children start doing something I don’t want to see them do it is because they have seen my husband or myself do the same. It is heartbreaking, but fixable.
Keeping all this in mind has helped make our discipline stress free. There is no yelling or arguing. Just responsibility, keeping calm, and a lot of good discussion. I would love hear what positive parenting tips work well for you in the comments!
Need Some Extra Help?
Check out Simone’s post on Siblings Without Rivalry and How to Talk So Kids Will Listen And Listen So Kids Will Talk.