When it comes to disciplining, structure and consistency are key. It’s also the most challenging parts for me. I would often forget the punishment or feel that it didn’t quite correspond to her actions. It was either too harsh or too soft, or simply make no sense at all. Over the years, however, we’ve built our own system based on the following tips. Disciplining her hasn’t gotten easier, but it’s sure gotten a lot better.
Charts Are Your Friend. Create a chore chart and add a discipline row on there. If they’re to take the garbage out or clean the dishes for a week, then add that as an extra chore for them to do within the next following days.
Create a List of Consequences. If you need to add an item to the chart above, then have a list of consequences handy. It could be anything from doing the extra chore to taking away a favorite toy, activity, or a future event. Just make sure the punishments measure up to whatever it is your child did.
Write It Down. Noting down her punishments, what she did, and what action I took has been an essential part of our disciplining. Think of it as a contract. For me–especially–it’s been a lifesaver. I used to be a serial punisher (prior to coming up with the List of Consequences tip above). “No television for the rest of the year!” I would yell, or my favorite–“No weekend activities until the end of the school-year.” Yes, these were things I actually said and of course ended up retracting. Since writing it down, we create reasonable punishments and we’re both accountable for it.
Give a “Get Out of Trouble” Card. Part of our daughter’s reward system is a family coupon game, which also included a “Get Out of Trouble” card and other disciplining tricks. These were great for when she wanted a certain dish for dinner or breakfast, or if she wanted to take a day off from school. She won these only by doing a certain amount of chores (she chart tip above).
Call Reinforcements. This is especially a good idea for single parents. Sometimes, children respond better to another strong figure you both trust and respect. This could be anything from grandparents, aunts and uncles, and even friends of the opposite sex. They might just need that other perspective and reasoning to get them back on track.
Take a Break. Honestly, there will be times when you shouldn’t do anything at all. Measure yourself carefully and don’t go overboard with the tactics. Parenting is hard enough without making it harder with tons of rules, discipline techniques, and behavioral tactics. If you’ve taught your children values, talk to them often, that’s enough of punishment for them.