I’ve only been a mom for 6 ½ years and one thing I’ve learned is that consistent discipline is necessary for those of us who want to raise well-mannered children who will grow to be a value to the communities they live in. While consistent discipline is necessary, that doesn’t mean it’s easy and it especially doesn’t mean that it’s a “one-size fits all” kind of thing either. Every child is different.
They have different personalities and therefore, what motivates one child to follow the rules may have no effect on another child. In addition, while a stern lecture or even a spanking may work one week doesn’t necessarily mean the same will work next week when the child acts up again. Probably the biggest lesson I’ve learned from my 6 ½ year old regarding discipline is that it is ever-changing.
My husband and I are constantly thinking up different consequences for bad behavior because just when it seems like we have figured out the perfect form of discipline it seems to lose its effect on our son. I know I’m not the only parent out there who has had this issue, right? In fact, I’m willing to bet that most kids are this way. They seem to adapt to various types of punishments and eventually aren’t as worried about these consequences as they once were.
For me, at this particular stage in parenting (I know my view will change as my kids get older), staying on top of the discipline game is the hardest part of parenting. The reason it’s so dang hard is because I know it needs to be done (when I don’t want to), I have to be consistent in it (I can’t let things “slide” or the behavior will get worse, and I have to keep up-to-date on which particular type of discipline is working for my son on this particular day/week.
Of course, like I said above, after a while of the same discipline tactics, my son begins to slack off a bit because he isn’t worried about the consequences. After all, he’s been through it before, right? Therefore, I’m constantly trying to keep a short list of unique forms of discipline to fall back on when the discipline of choice stops working.
Below are just a few creative discipline strategies I’ve come up with that seem to work (for a while).
1. Bedroom Grounding – As my son is only 6, we don’t ever “ground” him for longer than one evening and generally this is reserved for when he misbehaves at school and the teacher sends a note home. My son loves to be where all the action is so he hates being confined to his room for the evening. When he is in his room for the evening, the only time we allow him to come out is to take a shower, work on homework and eat dinner. And there have been times when we have had to bring him dinner to his room because he didn’t seem to be taking his punishment very seriously. (He hates eating dinner in his room) As I said, this is probably our most severe punishment for the little guy, and since it isn’t used much, it is one of the most effective.
2. Cleaning the Backyard - Usually my husband and I help our son pick up the backyard as it gets littered with toys quite often. However, when he has a bad day, we will have him go and clean the backyard by himself – this includes using the pooper-scooper to pick up our dog’s weekly deposits. It will take him about 30-45 minutes to clean the entire back yard, and for his age, I think this is an appropriate punishment.
3. Cleaning his Bathroom - Okay, now this is one that obviously I can’t let him do alone, but it is very effective because he hates cleaning the toilet (typical boy thing, right?). Obviously I stand right there and watch him do it (while he’s wearing rubber gloves) as I wouldn’t let a child that age use cleaning supplies without supervision. I also don’t expect perfection because he is only 6, but I expect him to do it with a good attitude. Once the stool is clean, I have him clean the countertop and sink. I leave the mirrors and floor for me to do (and I usually go back over the toilet once he’s in bed too). This may sound a little harsh, but it is another effective punishment.
Above are just a few of the creative discipline techniques I have used, but there are plenty more. For me, it’s not so much the type of discipline that is important, but that we stay consistent in our disciplining that is the most important. If we let our kids get by with one thing today, then they will probably do it again tomorrow…and eventually it will morph into something different altogether.
Therefore, staying consistent is really the most important thing. Not only will it ensure that our kids grow up to be men/women who are respectful, have good character and are a value to their respective communities, but when we discipline our children (in a loving manner), we reinforce the fact that we love them very deeply, which is something every child should know.