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Discovery Years through Taking Flight - Discipline

  • A. Try Preventive Teaching. This technique involves practicing a situation before it actually occurs. You can practice with your children at your own dining room table. First, tell your children exactly how you want them to behave when being seated at a restaurant. For example, tell your children to take the first unoccupied chair they find at the table. Teach them how to ask permission if they want to leave their seat. Give your children clear messages about how they need to behave and include reasons.
  • A. It's possible your child needs more practice. Remember: Clearly tell your child how he or she is to act and what the consequences will be (positive or negative) for your child's behavior. Preventive Teaching is no guarantee, but it makes positive behavior more likely. Following through with consequences is also very important. If your child refuses to act appropriately, don't be afraid to leave the restaurant and go home.
  • A. The truth is you can't. What you can do is encourage your children to make good decisions. You need to praise your children the moment that they do follow your instructions. You should set very clear expectations or rules about behavior. When your children misbehave, teach them an alternative positive behavior. And finally, always follow through with a consequence if they disregard your rules or expectations. Sometimes, parents fall into the trap of threatening to use consequences, but never really do.
  • A. Try changing the consequence and always follow through. It's quite possible that the consequence is trivial compared to the reward or fun of staying out past curfew. You need to adjust the size, importance and immediacy of the consequence you're using. This is also a good time to use some Preventive Teaching. Remind your children what they need to do to be home on time. For example, you can say, "Friday night's curfew is 11 p.m., know how long it will take you to get home from wherever you are and leave in time to make curfew. If you know you're going to run late, always call home."
  • A. When your child refuses to listen to you and storms out of the house, you need a "Staying Calm" plan so you don't lose control. If you think your son has gone somewhere safe and familiar (the home of a friend or relative), and isn't in any danger, take a moment to catch your breath and calm down. Wait for him to return, then give him a negative consequence for leaving the house. Tell him why that type of behavior is unacceptable, and then practice with him on how he should respond the next time you correct him (e.g. Look at you, say 'okay' and don't argue).
  • A. Try a consequence that is the opposite of the problem behavior. In this case, he should do something nice with or for his sister. If he hit her to get a toy, he should lose time to playing with that toy. For younger children, time-outs are also an effective consequence.
  • A. Comes home late? (Tell your child he or she has to be home an hour early the next day.)
    Fights with his brother? (Have both of them do chores together.)
    Sleeps too late in the morning? (Make your child go to bed early the next night.)
    Won't listen? (Your child is really not following instructions. Take away a privilege or add an extra chore.)
    Won't stop hitting or kicking…(Teach your child self-control strategies, including deep- breathing, stretching and positive self-talk exercises. Have your child repeat a positive comment, such as "I can get myself under control" or "If I stop now, things will get better."
  • A. In a perfect world, both parents would have the same rules and expectations, and use the same consequences. The truth is that you probably can't do very much to change the mother's parenting style. That's why it's important for you to consistently use a positive teaching approach when your daughter is with you. The more consistent you are, the better she will understand your rules. You should also teach your daughter that different rules and expectations apply to different environments. For example, there are different behavior expectations at school, church, your home and Mom's house.
  • A. If your child's behavior hasn't changed after you consistently used a consequence, your child is probably telling you that the consequence doesn't mean anything to him. Try taking away a privilege that he will notice. If he is younger, take away his TV privileges or a favorite toy for a day. If he's a teenager, take away phone or e-mail privileges for a weekend. It's important to also remember that even though consequences are a powerful tool, when used alone, they won't always change behavior. Consistent teaching and modeling positive behavior works best over the long run.
  • A. It takes two to fight. Give a consequence to both, regardless of who started the confrontation.
  • A. That can happen and it's not always bad. Check on her regularly to make sure she's okay. If she's tired or frustrated, and isn't ready to listen, let her sleep on it. It's okay to wait and work things out in the morning.
  • A. She should do whatever helps her to calm down. Maybe it is listening to music, taking deep breaths, counting to 100, writing in a journal or going for a walk. If you haven't already done so, develop a "Staying Calm" plan with your daughter. The plan should have three parts. First, help your daughter recognize the signs that indicate she's starting to get angry (physical, emotional changes). Second, have your daughter identify the types of people and situations that tend to get her angry. Finally, identify healthy ways she can release her anger. Just by creating the plan, your daughter will be more aware of her emotions and the choices she has for staying calm.
  • A. If you're upset, you need to use your own "Staying Calm" plan. You should also think about how you're going to deal with your son's anger and correct his misbehavior.
  • A. If your son has a tantrum, give him time to compose himself using a calming-down strategy. Teach him ahead of time ways to remain calm (deep-breathing, counting to 10, positive self-talk). When he's calm, give him a consequence for having a fit (a time-out or take away a special toy). Later, you can instruct him to make his bed. If he throws another fit, give another consequence.
  • A. Apologize immediately and tell your child that what you did was wrong. Try to identify what made you angry enough to hit your child. If you know what your "hot buttons" are, you can make a plan for taking a time-out to cool down the next time you're in a similar situation. You should also consider seeking help from a professional counselor or therapist.
  • A. You won't find any recommendations to use spanking or other forms of physical aggression on this Web site. Teaching is the most powerful weapon you have, and the best way to correct behavior.
  • A. Is your child allowed to smoke? If not, breaking rules is not a calming-down option. Deep-breathing exercises will produce the same effect.
  • A. If your child gets destructive, call for help - a respected family member, support person or the police. The person you call should be someone your son will listen to and who can influence your son to stop his behavior.
  • A. It may take a few moments or it may take a few days. It all depends on the circumstances surrounding the event and how well she can deal with her anger. When your daughter is calm, she will be able to follow any simple instruction that you give. For example, you might say to her, "Let's go to the kitchen and talk" or "Why don't you sit here in this chair." If she can follow your instructions, she should be calm enough for you to address the problem and do some follow-up teaching. If she won't follow your instructions, give her more time to cool off.