Creative discipline

So, a couple weeks ago I went to a seminar on discipline at Perimeter. I promised to tell you (all 4 of you) about the things I learned there, and I just know you’ve been on the edge of your seat waiting. So here it is…  There were three things that stuck out as overriding principles.

  1. Consistency. “We do not tolerate …x…” So, if you do x, then y will happen. Every time. If you show disrespect at dinner, you will leave the table.
  2. Planning. If you were building a house, you’d meet with an architect, a design team, you’d plan everything – budgetwise, timewise – down to the knobs on the faucet. Raising children requires even more planning. And discipline is specific to each family and each child. What works for one won’t necessarily work for another. And that is why you have to plan consequences for each child.
  3. Effective discipline is painful – it hurts in some way or another. You have to figure out the line for each child and not cross that line, but if the discipline isn’t harsh in some way, it won’t teach a lasting lesson. By painful, I’m not talking about cigarette burn painful or anything worthy of calling DFCS – just something that causes enough discomfort that your child will remember it.

That said, what are some creative ways to discipline kids? I’d love to hear from you on this. Here are some ideas I picked up at the seminar, and a few more from my friends who I’ve been talking this over with.

  • Teenager – take the door off the hinges. That’s right. Remove the door from their room. Nobody likes to live in a fishbowl.
  • For a child who quits things – watch a new movie (or TV show) with them, turn it off, take the DVD, and leave the room 10 minutes before the end. “Well, it was almost over. What does it matter if we finish it?” Basically, turn their ‘logic’ back on them.
  • Tickets on the fridge – each child has 4 ‘tickets’ on the fridge. Every time they misbehave a ticket is removed. At the end of the week whoever still has at least one ticket on the fridge gets to go with mom to …(where ever). Anyone who doesn’t have any tickets has to stay home / stay at a neighbor’s / etc.
  • Teenager – manual labor. See that bush in the yard? Dig it up and move it to the other side of the yard. Oops! I liked it better where it was. Move it back. Or, here’s a toothbrush and some soap – clean the grout in the shower.
  • Younger kids – colored popsicle sticks = TV time for each child. 1 stick = 1/2 hour and each child gets 4 (or however many you decide) each week. They can use them as they wish, but you can also take away a stick for misbehavior.
  • Punishment for lying or failing to admit fault (for kids who are old enough to read) – write a note on the fridge. “Jane lies” “Jack hits” When the child admits it and asks forgiveness, the note disappears – the action is forgiven and forgotten.
  • When siblings fight – simply say “fighting isn’t allowed in the house.” escort them out the door, and lock it (you stay inside). If your kids are relatively young, they’ll do anything (including forget why they were fighting) to get back inside ‘their house’ and in mom and dad’s presence – and they’ll never leave the front step.
  • To get kids to clean up – whatever toys/clothes they leave on the floor go to Goodwill. And follow up.
  • For an elementary age child who won’t stay in his seat (to eat dinner or do his homework) – get a long scarf and tie him to his chair. No, not overnight – just until he finishes his task. The idea isn’t bondage – it’s making it more difficult for him to bow to distractions.
  • For a small child who won’t keep their rear end in their chair at dinner time, or likes to stand/bounce/jump on the furniture – anytime you see their tushie in the air give it a little pop and say ‘sit on your bottom.’ In only 10 minutes I got Little Man (18 months) to stop playing on the couch and use it for what it’s meant to be – a seat. We’re on day 2 with Bean – at 3 her habit is a bit harder to break. This isn’t a spanking – it’s one of those ‘love taps’ my gramma used to give me. Hard enough to make me notice, but not enough to hurt. It’s the continuity of it (and the smile that comes with it) that gets the kids. It’s like a game – but one where they don’t want to get popped again.

Creative discipline isn’t always about time-outs or taking things away. It can be about adding things to kids’ lives that make them uncomfortable. So please, chime in with your creative discipline ideas. Only a few of these work with my young kids – but I’m really hoping I remember the others as my kids get older.

Tell me your creative discipline ideas!


6 thoughts on “Creative discipline

  1. Oh I could use some ideas for a gifted 9 year who thinks he is smarter than his parents and therefore, disrespectful. And is so bored by his school work, he barely puts any effort into it or does it and then doesn’t turn it in to the teacher.

    And of course we have stomping off, for which he has walk back to me and walk off properly over and over until I feel he is done. Same with slamming doors. He must open and close it, open and close, etc. until I feel the lesson will last a little time anyway.

    But the new stuff, I am lost!!


  2. I was pointed to your post by livingfragrance because I wrote a post about how I disagreed with spanking. I really like the information you have posted here. I don’t have children yet, so I can’t contribute additional discipline ideas. I’m just gathering ideas to prepare for when I do have kids. Great post!


  3. I love the idea of ‘misting’ – it would *really* get their attention without causing any pain. I have to go out and get myself some good misting bottles! This would SO work for Bean.


  4. I love your point #3, though that’s where anybody will get the most flack.

    The thing I find myself doing most often is using a misting bottle in my pre-schoolers’ faces.

    I’ve heard the objection from some that this means treating them like a pet. I’d argue it’s treating a pet like a child. ;o) I find it a very effective deterrent, which is a little ironic since they sometimes ask for it during play.

    I like it b/c it is a physical response to a negative action that doesn’t require bringing out the “big gun” of spanking right away. (I prefer to reserve that for outright defiance).

    Also, simply labeling what they’re doing helps sometimes (maybe like labeling overeating as gluttony, and therefore, a sin). I’ll look at one and say, “You’re disobeying Mother.” Or, “If I have to tell you more than once you’ve already disobeyed.”

    For some reason that works for us (and I use it sparingly– probably b/c I’m not always consistent in following up other things, so here they know I’m serious). I like to think it’s b/c they’re forced to acknowledge what they’re doing is wrong, instead of pretending I don’t really care.


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