What do you do if your child throws a tantrum? What do you do if they hit or throw?
- Shout the kids name while they ignore you?
- Hit or spank?
- Bottle up your frustration and just ignore it?
- Threaten, but fail to back it up?
If any of the above describes you, then you need a discipline plan. What is a discipline plan? It is a series of pre-planned steps that you will take if your child misbehaves. A good discipline plan will be:
- Thought about well in advance
- Start with a small punishment
- Escalate to more serious punishments if needed
- Discussed in the family, with all caregivers so that there is consistency
- Well known to the children so that they know what to expect
- Implemented quickly and consistently
As an example, in my family we have always had a bedtime ritual. The ritual has changed over time, but it generally starts with tooth brushing and washing promptly at 8:30pm, then bedtime reading, some (educational) videos, some songs, lights out, back rubbing, more songs, sleep. Our ritual adds at least 30-45 minutes to the going to bed process. But the ritual makes going to bed fun for everyone.
Why do I mention our bedtime ritual? It is part of our discipline plan.
The first instance of bad behavior results in few minutes in “THE CHAIR”, otherwise known as a time-out. Continued bad behavior results in loss of bedtime ritual for the night. “Go directly to bed and put yourself to sleep”. Very serious bad behavior results in loss of all electronics for the day. When my son was a toddler and we started to discipline, we escalated past a time-out a few times. However, as he has gotten older, he does everything he can to avoid escalation. It is very, very rare that we have to escalate, usually a time-out or a warning is more than enough.
Many parents try a time out, but often the kid will just get up or ignore it. Without a follow-up the chair is useless. However, if the child knows that failure to stay in the chair will result in more serious punishment, the child will not dare to get up.
The best part of a discipline plan is that, when the child misbehaves, it is at that moment that the parent is very angry and may resort to hitting, shouting, name calling or other inappropriate, and yes, abusive responses. However, with a discipline plan, everyone knows what will happen next. No shouting is necessary.
What is your discipline plan?