We all love the time honored traditions we have to discipline children with – reasoning, huffing out, time out for the child, taking away videogame privileges, outright bribing, and a touch of spanking if nothing else will work. But isn’t there something else we can do about all of this seeing as how tedious discipline can get? Is there something creative intelligence can bring to the table? There is, as it happens.
There are lots of things you can get done by addressing your child’s intelligence, and not having to lecture. What one of my friends will do is, when there is a little scuffle at dinner, and her son will maybe kick his sister under the table, she will place a calming hand on his shoulder, look intently at him and ask him what he believes would be the fair or decent thing for him to do now. Of course the kid could look right back at her and say something defiant. But that usually doesn’t happen. And it’s a fair question; if the kid doesn’t respond positively, it doesn’t make you look bad.
Children love rituals. Somehow it just works with them. Another one of my friends has a magic codeword for when the children have done something wrong. Her aim in using that word is to just get them to acknowledge that something bad has happened; and to get them to think about it. That there’s something that she needs to object to when she just mentions that word – it could be Geronimo or Quality or anything – and the children know that their job then would be to sit right down wherever they are and be silent for a minute, hopefully thinking about what they just did. There’s really no explaining why this works as a way to discipline children. It just does. And what is more, it gets the situation quietened down too.
Here’s something my husband likes to do. He’s the one who cleans up the dishes and cleans up around the house. And he really gets annoyed to see toys scattered about, or a half-empty bag of chips under the sofa. His rule is that whenever something like this happens, the child responsible is to take a dime out of her own money and put it in see-through jar as a tip for him. He calls it “paying housekeeping”. After they’ve been through this for a couple weeks and see her money piling up in there, they really get fed up of paying for the luxury of leaving their stuff about. This is one way to discipline children that’s really impressed me.