From time to time I get asked by parents for help with regard to discipline of their children. It is a different age to when many of us were kids and yesterdays discipline techniques don’t work today. Many of them anyway.
I have a great discipline task with a NLP twist that makes it easy for you and useful for your child. Lets first have a quick chat about discipline.
I have one word for you – consistency. There are too many kids that I meet in my office or through parents whose only consistency is that there is no consistency. No consistency of rules, rewards, consequences, punishments, etc. Everyday they wake up its new rules. This can be very, very confusing for kids. Kids need rules, boundaries and consistency.
When I work with parents to increase their parenting skills consistency is the major downfall. During our conversations I might ask what kind of reward and consequence methods they use and a standard remark is “but that doesn’t work for us”. To me, that simply means whatever method may not have actually been used consistently. This may be because its too hard to implement or just not effective.
Whatever you do needs to be simple to implement, otherwise you will give up! Yes, YOU. Your child isn’t going to do anything to help you ensure their consequences are fulfilled – that’s the parents job. My favourite stories are ones that have a long list of ‘you can’t…’ like this: “you (the child) can’t watch TV, talk on the phone, use the computer, play games, have friends over, go to friends – nada, nothing. You’re grounded for two weeks!” Two days into the grounding the child goes to the parent – I’m bored… parents response “go watch TV”. Punishment over. Child – one point. Parent – nothin’. If its too hard to manage, maintain or sustain, it won’t work.
Here is one of my top discipline/consequence methods that work for any kids 6-16. Here’s how it works (some of you might remember this from school):
1. Buy your child a notebook (spiral, exercise, etc.) that is their very own. If you have more than one child, this means more than one book. One per = one child.
2. Choose a place in the house where your child can sit, undisturbed for 5-30 minutes (or more). This place should be in the open (not in their room) and not in a pre-anchored place (ie. Where the child always sits at the table is anchored for eating).
3. Explain this consequence to your children – here’s an example:
From now on there is going to be a consistent consequence when you don’t follow the rules of the family. I will give you one warning that you are not following the rules. If you continue, you will stop whatever you are doing, go and get your notebook and sit at the table and write x pages of lines. We will come up with the line together. While you write the lines, you will not speak, get up from your seat or do anything other than write. If you do speak, get up or anything other than write, that will add 1 page of lines. You will sit there until you are complete. When you write, all lines must be done in neat handwriting. If its not, you will redo the entire page. Once you are done, you will apologies with words and then you are free to continue your day. Do you have any questions?
4. A general rule is 1 page of lines (1 line per line) per year of age. So – 6 years old = 6 pages. Depending on the size of the book, you may want to amend this. Some families choose 20 lines per year of age (6 years old = 120 lines).
5. When you choose the line to write, keep it simple and positive based on what you want your child to learn and do in the future:
- Not: I will not hit my brother.
- Yes: I will treat my brother with respect.
- No: I will not yell.
- Yes: I will find better ways to express my anger.
- No: I won’t cheat on my homework.
- Yes: I will do my own work the best that I can.
6. Make sure you and your entire family (and any care givers) know what the family rules are and that all responsible adults follow this consequence, consistently!
The feedback I have received from parents for this simple consequence has been wonderful. The ownership is given to the child. The sooner they complete the task (legibly), the sooner they can get back to playing or whatever the next thing is. I have some client who bring the notebooks with them everywhere and have the children doing this task in the car, at a restaurant, at families houses, etc.
What I love about this task is this:
- It provides an instant ‘time-out’
- It is easy to manage – anyone can implement it (tell the babysitter!)
- It can be done anywhere
- It focuses on what you want to happen in the future
If this task consistently done, this might become one of your favourite consequences – it might not favour with your kids however!