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Thursday, 29 March 2012

Consequences – Do what works!

Consequences – Do what works!

Picture this: A frazzled mum with 4 kids running around her, yelling, jumping and making a mess! That mum is me on my bad days! Hehe :) . I realized recently that I need to change my tactics...again! The way I've been disciplining my children isn't working anymore, they are growing up. My oldest is almost 9 yrs. The things that work with toddlers may not work with older school-age children. And I know they are going to be teenagers before too long. Time flies! This is cliche but true: they grow up so fast!

My son just broke my daughters eraser, it was a new one she bought herself for $3. I tried my usual discipline method of explaining to him that it was wrong and getting him to apologize to her, then giving him time-out... the whole time I was doing this he wasn't really listening to me... and I could see he wasn't learning anything. I then told him he has to give her $3 so she can buy a new one. Then he cried a lot! And gave her the $3. He hasn't broken anything since then.

So my point is: if the consequences you are giving them aren't working, try something else. All kids have their unique personalities as well so you may have to experiment trying different things.

From my experience, yelling and smacking and lecturing doesn't work. When you do these things, you are setting a bad example (Kids will more likely copy what you do, than copy what you say). When you yell and get emotional this also gives them the message that you are not in control and makes them feel either uneasy or scared or they will just respect you less. Kids have a tendency to mirror your stress, they play up more when you are stressed.

I try to save yelling for emergency situations, for example, if my child ran onto the road.  I find they are more likely to pay attention to me because it is unusual for them to hear me yell like that! And you really want them to pay attention in a situation like that.

Some consequences that you could try:
- Time-out
- Taking away privileges (eg: T.V., computer, game station time, cellphone)
- Making them pay for stuff they break
- Making them clean up their mess
- Making them apologize
- Give them extra chores

When you are disciplining them, do so from a place of compassion and understanding.  Don't go to war with them.  Calmly set them clear, firm boundaries, from a place of love and respect.

"A person's a person, no matter how small" ~ Dr Suess

Prevention is better than cure
Make sure all your child's needs are getting met. If they are not – he/she will misbehave more. Obviously they need physical things like regular meals, sleep and a routine, but they also need to know that they are loved and cherished, and need to be praised when they get things right. Try to think of why they are behaving that way and try to remedy the cause.

Reward them for good behavior
Catch them behaving well and let them know they are doing well.  Kids want to please us, and kids want our attention.  So give them positive attention when they are good.  Star charts are good for younger children.

Best of luck with your kids, and please leave any comments or questions below :)