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Grandparenting in the 21st Century Issue1234

Effective Discipline and Praise Techniques

If you've been following our "Grandparenting in the 21st Century" email series, then you've already learned how important it is to maintain structure in your grandchild's life. In addition to maintaining their routines and consistent expectations for behavior, it's also important to address their behavior in a way that's in line with what their parents would do.

Ideally, when it comes to discipline, you'll already know what consequences your grandchild faces at home, so you can use the same ones when you're in charge. But unless Mom or Dad has specifically instructed you on how to discipline your grandchild, you'll have to be prepared to handle it yourself. Having to discipline your grandchild is no fun, but trust that correcting bad behavior is in the child's best interest.

Using Time-Out to Discipline Your Grandchildren
One effective discipline tactic is the time-out. It's a simple concept, but our experts have developed some general rules to make time-out effective:

  1. The time-out location should be somewhere boring, with few or no distractions. The bottom step of the stairs often works well, as does a chair in the corner of the kitchen. Avoid the child's room, playroom, or anywhere they can look out a window or see the TV. Also, make sure the time-out location is somewhere you can keep an eye on them.
  2. Time the time-out. Use a time and have the time-out last one minute for each year of the child's age. It's unreasonable to expect a 2-year-old to sit still for 10 minutes. In the same respect, an 8-year-old needs longer than two minutes to think about what they've done.
  3. Wait until your grandchild is quiet and still before you start the timer. If they leave the time-out spot or misbehave, start the timer over until they get it right. Pro Tip: This sometimes can go on for a long time—especially with a stubborn toddler. A child who continues to misbehave is looking for attention. When correcting them and starting over, say as little as possible, and use only minimum interaction. If you don't engage them, they'll eventually become bored and give in.
  4. Have the child correct the behavior. When your grandchild has successfully completed time-out, they're only half done. Now it's time to correct the behavior that got them in trouble in the first place. For example, they'll need to pick up those toys they refused to pick up or apologize for their actions.
  5. Remember to praise good behavior on a regular basis. Boys Town teaches parents to "catch kids being good" and reward them with praise. This approach will help your grandchild understand what good behavior is, and they'll crave the positive attention, which will help reduce the frequency of misbehavior.

On that last note, it's important to remember that discipline can be effective only if it's balanced with praise. Children need to know when they've done something good, so they can repeat the behavior, just as much as they need to know when they've done something wrong, so they can avoid the behavior. A good rule of thumb is to use the 4:1 ratio, your grandchild should hear four positive comments for every negative comment.

If you'd like help with simplifying the consequences of good and bad behavior, consider a Joy Jar and a Job Jar.

  1. Label two jars—one with "Joy" and one with "Jobs."
  2. Fill the Joy Jar with slips of paper with rewards written on them.
  3. Fill the Job Jar with slips of paper with age-appropriate chores written on them.
  4. Catch your grandchild doing something good? Let them draw a slip from the Joy Jar.
  5. When your grandchild misbehaves, have them reach into the Job Jar and draw a chore they have to do.

It won't be long before your grandchild sees that going out for pizza is much more fun than taking out the garbage.

Teaching Activity

Map It Out

When it comes to getting from Point A to Point B, chances are your grandchild is only familiar with GPS apps and other online sources. Have they ever seen a real map? For that matter, how long has it been since you've used a paper map? This activity might be as much a refresher for you as it is a new experience for your grandchild.

  1. Decide where you want to go. A place within walking distance is ideal.
  2. Print a map (minus the directions) that includes your starting point and your destination. If you're really ambitious, draw one yourself.
  3. Teach your grandchild about north, south, east, and west. You can also teach them how to figure out which direction is which in the real world. Label your map accordingly.
  4. Let your grandchild use the map and their observation skills to identify landmarks on the way to your destination.
  5. Try not to correct your grandchild as they interpret the map unless you're getting way off course.
  6. When you reach your destination, see if your grandchild feels comfortable taking you back to the starting point.

Pro Tip: Add an extra element of fun by making this activity a treasure or scavenger hunt!

Social Skills

Accepting Criticism or a Consequence

When it comes to discipline, you're bound to get resistance from your grandchild. It should come as no surprise that children are not big fans of punishment, but learning to accept the consequences of their actions is an important life skill.

Here are the steps to teach your grandchild for listening respectfully when someone is addressing their behavior. Adjust the language and ideas to fit the child's age.

1.    Look at the person.

    • Rationale: Looking at the person shows that you are paying attention.
    • Helpful hints:
      • Don't stare or make faces.
      • Look at the person throughout the conversation. Don't look away.
      • Listen carefully and try not to be distracted.
      • Paying attention shows courtesy; looking away shows disinterest.

2.    Say, "Okay."

    • Rationale: Saying, "Okay," shows that you understand what the other person is saying.
    • Helpful hints:
      1. Nodding your head also shows that you understand.
      2. Don't mumble.
      3. By nodding your head or saying, "Okay," frequently throughout a long conversation, you let the speaker know that you are still listening carefully.
      4. Use a pleasant voice. Don't be sarcastic.

3.    Don't argue.

    • Rationale: Accepting criticism without arguing shows that you are mature.
    • Helpful hints:
      1. Stay calm.
      2. Try to understand what the person is saying so you can do a better job next time.
      3. Remember that the person who is giving you criticism is only trying to help.
      4. If you disagree, wait until later to discuss the matter.

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