Punishing – oops, disciplining children effectively is tricky but possible.
Of course our children are angels and they make the world a better place. But let’s face it, these same angels occasionally need a massive kick up the backside.
Not literally of course, because that would be too easy.
The list of offences can be long and varied, depending on the culprit’s age. From drawing on walls and breaking someone’s toy on purpose to being rude at school, failing to do homework or just basically being a pain in the arse.
How to discipline is the key. Screaming at the top of your lungs isn’t technically disciplining, although it can feel good for a few seconds. But ultimately useless and well…embarrassing.
Far better to put some thought into how the punishment can have its desired effect and hopefully dissuade future transgressions.
Here are some thoughts from the battle-hardened parental team at Gustoker.
We’ll start with the adorable, yet highly-strung youngsters then work up to the zesty, unpredictable time bombs called teenagers.
It’s all about choosing the right consequence.
Is your baby getting the better of you? Maybe they need disciplining? Wow.
With all due respect, it’s time to lift your game.
Toddlers / Pre-schoolers (3-5)
Probably the easiest age group to deal with as their needs/desires can be quickly identified. Plus, we’re much bigger than them.
Stern warnings, followed by threats and then carrying out such threats are the way to go. A threat might typically be to confiscate a toy or to assign the cheeky little urchin to a silent area or a silent time period.
“Yes Damien, I know you don’t love vegetables but there’s probably no need to throw them across the room. You can go over there and be quiet for 15 minutes and I want you to think about what you did. Off you go!”
Once the child realizes Mummy/Daddy means business, any future wrong doings can hopefully be dealt with by simply mentioning the previous incident.
“Now Damien, before you throw that tomato – do you remember what happened last time? The quiet corner? Do you want to go there again? Thought not.”
It goes without saying that praising your child when they do something good is also important, but anyone can dish out praise. Effective disciplining requires patience and more patience.
School age children (6-12)
Disciplining gets a little trickier here as children of this age are starting to get an idea of what punishments are out there.
The slyer ones may even try to seek out their preferred punishment.
“Please don’t send me to my room! I’ll be good!”
“Oh – you don’t want to go to your room, eh? Well that’s exactly where you’re going to young lady. Off you go!”
The child pretends to mournfully trudge off to their room. Their room which is full of toys, comics and whatever else. Their favorite room, basically.
The parent thinks, Hmmm, Katie’s being awfully quiet up there. Reflecting, no doubt! Parent 1 Child 0.
Meanwhile Katie is indeed quiet – playing with her glitter nail stamper, in sheer bliss. Child 1 Parent 0.
Far more effective is the tried and tested confiscate or isolate system. Either remove something they treasure (most likely a game) or the chance to meet friends or go somewhere they actually want to. Soccer practice, somebody’s house, whatever.
Longer is needed at this age, a full day without their favorite thing can send a strong message not to fool around again. If they have any sense they’ll learn fast.
As for refusing to eat dinner or a meal – go hungry. A rumbling stomach teaches a pretty clear lesson. Shut up and eat.
You can take this an unnecessary step further by walking around patting your stomach and remarking how full and content you are.
Okay – this is the nitty gritty. You need your A game. Kids in their teens will often naturally rebel against adult values, especially those concerning the family and school. As we did.
It’s all about minimizing the damage. Expect them to act up at some stage and be seriously concerned if they don’t.
The key is to having an arsenal of suitable punishments to hand out on varying scales of toughness.
Teens’ weak spots are not surprisingly their devices (phones/tablets) and their time with friends. It’s not rocket science that to remove their device or their time privileges is hitting them where it hurts.
The only question is for how long. This depends on the misdeed. Rudeness, laziness, bad attitude-in-generalness at home or school could result in no phone for a day. Or staying home on a Saturday and doing chores.
More serious stuff like skipping school or drinking and smoking should be dealt with much longer periods for some true reflection.
Long-winded speeches about the error of their ways is a waste of everyone’s time and frankly, dull.
Reminding them of where they live and who pays for the clothes they wear is stating the obvious and can likely lead to more resentment. Don’t be surprised to see your likeness in a voodoo doll in their bedroom.
However flatly stating that you expect respect and that the sun in fact, does not shine out of their arse can never hurt.
The bottom line? It’s not fun but necessary. Forget the shouting and ranting – that’s what boxing classes and red wine are for.
Simply carry out your threat and when Discipline Time is over, remind them why it happened. Hopefully fewer broccoli throwing, back-talking, homework-shunning days to come.
Most of all tell yourself – “I’m the Queen/King of this house. Really. I am!”