Discipline strategiesBefore I talk about 9 discipline strategies that work like a charm, I want to take a brief moment and refresh your memory with the story I have been using to illustrate the points in my series:

It was a hot summer day, and Mom was excited to take her two young boys to the beach. About mid-day, six-year-old Joey started throwing sand at his brother. In response, Mom said sternly, “If you don’t quit throwing sand, I’ll give you a good reason to stop!” Within minutes, Joey was throwing sand again. Frustrated, Mom yelled, “That’s it! Get yourself over here right now, young man! You are ruining our time. Why can’t you be like your brother and act nice?” Mom slapped Joey firmly on the wrist and said, “Now, stop it!” Then, she proceeded to give him the silent treatment.

If Joey’s mom is going to use 9 discipline strategies that work, then she needs to answer three questions.

How do I:

  1. Turn his misbehavior into a teachable moment?
  2. Correct him while staying connected to him at the same time?
  3. Ensure that Joey will experience me as an emotional resource, rather than some mean mom to avoid?

To answer all three of those questions at the same time, mom could select from one or a combination of the following:

Discipline strategies that work like a charm

Redirect Joey’s behavior by saying something like, “Hey sweetie, instead of throwing the sand at your brother, go ahead and try building a sand castle together.”

Withdraw a privilege, such as playing in the water.  Mom could have said, “I know that you can figure out how to play nicer, so young men who throw sand lose 5 minutes of play time with their brother.”

Ignore the unwanted behavior because sometimes it’s good for parents to let the natural consequences do all the talking and teaching.  It can be an excellent way to let kids figure life out on their own and discover what happens when older brothers have had enough!

Verbally reprimand;  With this discipline strategy, you can say something like, “Stop that and play nice! Throwing sand can damage eyes. I want you guys to have fun and use the sand to build something, not to hurt each other.”

Take a break by asking Joey to remove himself from the setting to calm down. For example, asking Joey to sit briefly on his beach towel away from the fun until he can relax and act appropriately. She could have said something like, “Joey, it looks like you’re struggling a bit. How about sitting over here with me until you can show me that you are calm enough to join your brother again and make better choices?”

Offer choices by asking him, “Joey, would you like to stop throwing the sand and start playing nice, or would you like to sit on the towel away from your brother?”

Ask a thinking question by saying, “It seems to me that you want to play with your brother, but it’s hard to ask him.  Sweetie, what do you think might happen if you use your words and ask your brother to play instead of throwing sand at him?”

Employ a timeout and remove Joey from the setting. Rather than ask Joey to take a break and remove himself, go ahead and tell Joey to sit on his beach towel away from the fun until Mom (not Joey) determines that he’s ready to rejoin his brother and act appropriately. She could have said, “What a bummer. It looks like your poor choices have earned five minutes on your towel buddy.  Your job is to stop playing now, sit on the towel and calm yourself.  I’ll let you know when your five minutes is up.”

Employ a time-in, with this discipline strategy, mom stays with Joey and lets him have his meltdown in her attentive presence. Your goal is to provide a calm “holding environment” for your child’s upset.  Expressing emotions with a safe, attentive, accepting adult is what helps kids move through painful and intense feelings.  It also helps them learn how to self-soothe and problem-solve at the same time. She could have said something like, “Sweetie, you seem to be struggling a bit. Come over here and sit by me because I want to understand you better.  Can you put words to what you are feeling?

A Point to Ponder:

Yes, punishment stops unwanted behavior; however, when used consistently, it can have several adverse effects.  So, when you are about to show disapproval for your child’s behavior, try to use discipline and focus on emotional connection first before correcting any behavior.  Over time, you will become and remain an attractive teacher to your child.  In the end, everyone will thrive!

Stay Tuned

In my next articles, we are going to learn how to guide kids without using discipline at all.  I’m not kidding.



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Steve Cuffari

Author: Steve Cuffari For many, Steve Cuffari is the mentor that parents call on to make their parenting style warmer, easier and more affective. He is the founder of inTouch Parenting, a company devoted to helping today's parents calm the chaos, raise emotionally intelligent kids, and nurture families that thrive.         read more about Steve Cuffari here...

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