Raising kids, you have to deal with a range of misbehavior, from apocalyptic hissy fits to broken curfews. Unless, that is, you have the perfect child, like I do. Once, in response to bath time, my son thought it a fitting revenge to create a wall mural beside his crib using his diaper contents. Ah, the joys of parenthood.
Managing such conduct can be equally tricky, especially when tried-and-true time-outs and sticker charts lose their luster. Following are some techniques from parents who were up to the task.
1. Daily duties. To encourage positive practices, consistency is key. I know it seems as if we’ve told our kids not to leave their dirty clothes in the middle of the floor just short of a million times. But if we keep them engaged and the message the same, they will eventually get the point. Plus, regular routines will set your tot or teenager on the right track. Of course, a little coercion doesn’t hurt.
(Note: Changing their phone passwords and holding remotes hostage are equally effective.)
2. Lock down. It’s a lot less threatening nowadays to send kids to their rooms as punishment when they have a wealth of technology to entertain themselves. Here is one parent’s modern alternative to house arrest:
3. On point. After removing relevant privileges, consider providing a way to proactively earn them back. This will not only give your children a new-found work ethic and the satisfaction of achieving a goal, it’ll also offer you a break from routine responsibilities.
4. Fear factor. Ok, ok. So studies show that fear doesn’t work as a long-term motivational technique. Furrowed brows and “Because I say so!” may put a stop to the immediate problem, but it will ultimately teach your child to use force with others as well as become sneaky to achieve goals. Still, this do-not-disturb sign may be an exception:
5. Truth and Consequences. Sometimes explaining to your kids why they should or shouldn’t do something will give them a chance to think about how their actions affect others. Tell her that hitting her brother will hurt his feelings and help her relate to the situation (How would you feel if your brother hit you?). While you’ll likely be more effective if you say the behavior influences the unicorn population, we don’t recommend it.
6. Attention, please. When you’re trying to make a point, be sure to get on your kids’ level. If they’re still young, crouch down on your knees and address them eye-to-eye. As they get older and more distant, use their interests as motivation to listen.
7. Duck-and-cover. When you start to feel as if you need a time-out, just hold fast and let it pass. Perhaps this humorist, journalist, columnist and mother says it best:
There aren’t any hard and fast rules when it comes to discipline. Though others may not approve, remember that you know your children best. Just take breath, stay cool and keep in mind, they’re just trying to figure it all out.
What creative ways do you teach your kids responsibility and consequences?