Friday, September 3, 2010

Discipline: The Big D in Parenting

Anna, a friend and fellow clever mama in her own right requested that I post something about discipline.  "gulp" - confession time:  I have cleverly avoided writing on this topic for one reason and one reason only - the thought of someone saying, "SHE is writing about discipline, but I saw her kids (fill in the blank)".  Let me first say that I am clearly not an expert at discipline.  My children have been known to have the occassional temper tantrum in the store.  They don't always listen and do as they are told.  They will balk at cleaning up their toys.  They are kids.  Not perfect kids, just kids.
On the other hand, aren't we all just moms of kids.  Don't we all deal with these things.  Isn't one of my goals in writing on parenting to share in the challenges of it and admit that we aren't perfect, we just do the best we can?  Right.  So here it is, my thoughts on discipline.
Discipline roots itself in the word "disciple" which means to teach.  Unfortunately many get caught up in the negative aspect of discipline equaling it to punishment.   Yes, consequence (notice I said consequence and not punishment) is a big part of discipline but that is not all that it is.  I think the clearest way I can talk about behavior is to let you know what works best for us.

Consistency - be consistent with your expectations of your children.  Also be consistant with the consequences
Clarity - let your kids know your expectations of any given situation at any given time.  A visit to the grocery store works so much better if I review my expectations before we get there
Consequence - logical consequences are great.  Clearly defined 'time outs' and 'time to thinks' are wonderful too. 
Quality Time - my kids are so much better behaved when they are having real quality time with both of us
Responsibility - lay out what they are responsible for and praise them for it - give them a little responsibility too (age appropriate of course) they need it
Respect - aka the Golden Rule - Treat others as you want to be treated yourself.  Also, you don't speak to adults the same way you would another child
Accountability - say what you mean to your kids and keep your word.  It does your child no good to threaten them if they know you won't follow through - in the same way they need to be held accountable for their actions (or in-actions)

Yes, I've done that! 
I do take away toys and other privileges from my children.  If they don't clean up their stuff, mama will and it will go into the basement or into my closet until they have earned the privilege of that toy again.

No is word worth saying!
Nothing drives me crazier than people who don't believe in saying 'no' to children.  They need to know the word 'no'.  They crave boundaries. Remember, kids who have been told 'no' know what 'no' means.  This makes them more likely to use the word 'no' in the future.  (no to drugs, no to promiscuity, no to smoking...)

People whose parenting opinions I admire:

Dr. Phil - yep, I like his style.  He has some real solid, sensible advice for us parents.  He's raised 2 kids of his own.
The Supernanny - She has a wonderful, hands-on, involved approach available for parents.  I've used it, it works
Barbara Coloroso - if you haven't heard her you need to take a look into her work.  She knows kids really well.
Ron Morrish - another parenting expert with sensible advice and methods

My 2 cents on spanking
I do my best to NOT spank my kids.  Here's why.  I've found physical punishment makes them more physical themselves.  I do not want my kids to be afraid of me.  I do not want to use a consequence out of anger.  I know there are those who will argue that proper spankings are given when you have had time to cool off.  I know I can do better than that.  How can I tell them hitting isn't okay if I'm hitting them myself?

So there you have it.  When I'm doing all of these things in parenting, my kids are happier and much better behaved.  I know when their behavior is off, the first place I need to look at it myself.


  1. I respect your decision to avoid spanking.

    Good read recommended by professionals:

    Plain Talk About Spanking
    by Jordan Riak

  2. Thanks Kris, this was really helpful. I loved your thoughts on discipline and teaching. I will check out your resources and hopefully glean some more tips. I am finding it hard to set expectation with a 14 month old as he does not communicate that well yet. I find I am running around saying " you can't touch that" but it’s always the same things and he grins and looks at me and does it again. I know he is really too young to have time outs. Usually we ignore the tantrums, but the deliberate disobedience is hard to correct so young. We have no problems saying no, in fact his first and primary word is no:)Also I agree with spanking (your comments I mean).

    Anyway I really appreciate what you wrote and it really does help.

  3. Hey Anna,
    I know the under 2 crowd is tricky with all of this. We first started giving time outs somewhere between 18 months to 2 years. You can see the sin nature so early! Sometimes the best that you can do is take a Mama time out for yourself. Definately, they can learn the word no and then physically remove them from the situation as a reinforcement. I also like the disctact method at that age, it can work too. I wish you well!

  4. I like you're thoughts and ideas. That discipline is needed is a given. And I'm glad you made me look at it as something positive. About learning, rather then punishing my child. I think because of reading this when the time comes I'll be able to handle things better. (fingers crossed anyways)




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