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Specifics tools for discipline

March 22nd, 2008


This is the fifth article in the series on Effective Discipline

What every parent wants to know is how to get their children to do what you tell them to do.

Although getting your kids to obey is certainly a part of parenting, the last 4 posts in this series on discipline explained that parenting is more than that. Those 4 posts laid the foundation of what discipline is.

Now let’s get into specific tools on how we can get our kids to obey. You’ve probably heard about many different methods. Here are just 10 methods that I’ve use with great success. Be sure to follow the Principles of Discipline while using these methods. The specifics of how to use each tool is up to you and your particular situation.

1. Use a timer. In my post for Parenthacks, I explained the use of the timer for just about everything. I won’t repeat myself here, so check out the post on Parenthacks. A timer is a tool you need to bring with you everywhere.

2. Use a chart. Most families use a chart for chores that are expected to be done continually. I like to use a chart for just about everything. For example, if your teenager wants a new sweater, she can earn it with extra chores or proper behavior goals that you set. Make a creative chart detailing what she needs to do. When it’s all filled in, she gets the sweater, simple as that 🙂

3. Use a jar of beans. This is a system where everyone in the family can contribute towards a goal together. For example, each time a kind word is said, the person receiving the compliment can put a bean in the jar. You can also use it to reward good behavior throughout the day so that siblings can encourage each other to behave well in order to fill up the jar quickly. “I will put a bean in the jar each time you share.” When the jar is full, we all go out to dinner, or everyone gets to buy 5 things at the Dollar Store.

4. Use written notes. My son likes me to write things down for him because he is forgetful. I write down specifically what I need him to do by when. He knows in advance what is expected. There is no more nagging.

5. Use polite words. We don’t yell commands to our co-workers, yet for some reason we think we have that liberty with our family. Our children are learning from our modeling, so use the magic words – “Please take out the trash” and “Thank you for taking your dishes into the kitchen.”

6. Use your child’s name and make sure he is listening to you before giving him instructions. Have you noticed that even if your child is in the same room with no one else around doesn’t mean that he hears you when you talk? For example, instead of randomly saying, “Take out the trash” when you think he should hear you, call his name, make sure he is looking at you without headphones in his ears before you give him the instruction. This has saved me many aggravating arguments of “I didn’t hear you – but how could you not hear me when I was right next to you.”

7. Use specific language. Have you heard your child say, “You said to pick up my clothes off the floor, you didn’t say where I had to put it.” It’s no use trying to argue that one. Take an extra effort to say exactly what you want him to do. For example, “Johnny, please take the trash from the kitchen and put it in the trash can outside within 5 minutes.”

8. Use positive consequences instead of negative as much as possible. For example, “Johnny, please put all your dirty clothes from your room into the washing machine by 6pm today. If you do, then you can have 10 more minutes on the computer.” He will probably get it done by 5pm. See how that would make everyone happier in your house? A negative consequence of taking away 10 minutes of computer time if he doesn’t get the chore done is a downer and creates resentment.

9. Use a normal tone of voice. Raised voices are a normal part of some families, but yelling at each other all the time is not normal! If you get into the habit of yelling, thinking that it’s the only way you are heard, then STOP IT! Use some of the other methods above. A more peaceful household is much more enjoyable.

10. Use compliments generously. When your child does something well, lavish praise to reinforce his behavior. This is especially important with our teenagers. They need to hear words of acceptance from us. We are more motivated when we know someone recognizes our good work. This positive attitude will be caught on by your children, and they will began to be more positive in their outlook at life.

By the way, be sure to use these methods for your husband too! I guarantee you, if you use these tools consistently, there will be no more yelling or nagging!

Photo by Cosmic Kitty

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  1. […] Get Toddler #1 use to responding to a timer. Get an old fashion timer that ticks, not a digital timer. When you need to do the laundry, put Toddler #1 in a safe place […]


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