Discipline When You Have Tried Everything
I want you to know that I’ve been there. You are at the end of your rope and you just don’t know what to do anymore. I too have tried it all to gain some control over my kids behavior to no avail. I’ve read all the parenting books, don’t even get me started on Tiger Mom and studied Love and Logic. I’ve taken things away and, hold on to your hats, even spanked my child *shocking*. Nothing worked. I’d pretty much consoled myself to the fact that I had failed as a parent. It was dark times people. I seriously have one of those “we started from the bottom and no we are here” kids and its awesome. Just in case you are still at the bottom, getting close to it, I encourage you to start by making Family Rules and Setting Boundaries then read on about how to create and enforce consequences.
Do they know their mistake?
You are probably going to jump right in and say they absolutely do because you’ve told them not to do it a hundred times. This maybe be true BUT have you told them what they can do? Kids tend to do things out of feelings- they bite, hit, kick, throw, cry, whatever it is because they feel like it. Its our job to teach them the better way. Believe it or not the same goes for teenagers when those hormones hit and suddenly every emotion gets turned way up. We have to come in and 1) listen then 2) teach an alternative. Instead of yelling at you, how do you want them to show disagreement? The best way to teach them is MODELING. Hey, I didn’t say this would be easy. You have to practice what you preach so if your kid can throw his toy when it doesn’t do what he wants then you can’t do it to the remote either. Try re-framing how you tell them not to do things, make it a NO BUT YOU CAN… statement.
Decide on 1 consequence together
What I liked a lot about using Love and Logic was that it used reasoning. It reinforced the idea of natural consequences which is a great life lesson learner. Its basically a giant I told you so that kids learn without you having to say it. The one that gets used a lot is if you tell a kid to take a jacket and they don’t then they are cold. My thing was that karma doesn’t always work fast enough for me. Sure my daughters room would eventually get dirty enough that she would have to clean it up just to move around but I would go bonkers before that happened. Nope. I need some fast acting consequences.
As I already mentioned, I tried everything including corporal punishment which frankly only ticked her off and confused her more. What finally clicked was when we talked about which consequence worked best. Stay with me here. We took things away but she would spiral into more behavior OR just find something else to play with. Instead we spanked her but she seemed to focus more on that we were doing a ‘wrong’ then what she was being punished for. When we did time outs, it was like baptizing a cat. She would scream the whole time and constantly run away so we had to put her right back BUT eventually she would calm down enough that we could finish it and talk to her. This is how we decided that this would be our go to consequence. The one consequence that covered all wrongs.
But that consequence doesn’t work…
I know that we already established that this consequence doesn’t work but that’s why we have a plan B. If she breaks the rules then she has to have a time out. She agreed to this with a smile, knowing full well that she was going to do everything under the sun to get out of that time out. The smile faded when I threw the back up plan at her. “If you don’t do your time out correctly, you have to trace the rules to help you remember them when you do finish your time out.” WHAT?! That’s right! A double whammy. She can either chose to do her consequence right the first time OR she can act up during it and do 2 consequences. BAM!
The first bad day was rougher then normal. She misbehaved, got put in time out, and tried her usual antics. Eventually she finished the time out and then lost it again when we handed her the trace paper and the pencil. She threw the pencil. We went back to time out. Ran away again. She probably wrote the rules 4 times that day. The next day was twice, until eventually she figured out that we weren’t giving in. Those days SUCKED but now she gets it. If she starts to act up during her consequence, I gentle remind her that she will have to write the rules and she *usually* gets it together.
Give Redemption A Chance
God gives grace and so should we. I do this with the 5 idea. Its not a huge new revelation; Moms have been saying “You have until I count to 3″ for as long as women could talk. The 5 idea is basically expanding on this. I started by saying something along the lines of ” You know you aren’t supposed to ______, you have until I count to 5 to stop or you will get a consequence.” Its evolved to just counting and now I just hold up fingers. I try to pause around 3 and remind her what she should do and the keep going. If she corrects herself before 5 then nothing happens and we move on.
I really wish I could guarantee that this system will work for you as well as it worked for me but unfortunately I can’t. What I can say is the fact that you are trying so hard to help your kid, that you are looking for consequences and not punishments (yes there is a difference), tells me that you are a good parent. I know it’s hard but you have support and you will get through this. What’s important is that you aren’t giving up, that you keep loving and fighting for what’s beat for them no matter what.