Let’s discuss some very basic foundations to get discipline going in the right direction. If you don’t start out with good ingredients, your end result is going to be crappy. Have you ever walked into a grocery store and wandered past the pies? They look like so-so generic pies – not incredibly motivating, so you say, “Eh. I’ll pass.” Yet you can walk into a fancy pie shop and feel like diving head first into that luscious apple-filled beauty. “Whoa! That looks awesome!” What’s the difference? It’s still just pie, right? Well, yes, it is. But the grocery store pie is slapped together, bland, and boring.
The pastry shop pie is piled high, gorgeous, and assembled with care. It’s successful – everyone wants to eat it. Discipline is the same. You have to take care in your ingredients and how you put it together.
All children need:
The Five Discipline Basics: Structure, Communication, Limits, Consistency & Guidance.
1. Structure is a schedule or a predictable routine. Structure gives kids security. As they age, flexibility is easier.
I always harp on toddlers having a super structured routine, but even as kids get older and hit school, they STILL need that routine. When you do the same things every day, at the same time, they feel a sense of order and control. Think about the routine at school: same activities, same time, every day. The kids know what to expect, and they cooperate.
You cannot run your children all over creation with after-school activities and constant baseball or football games on weekends. You cannot keep them up late one night and go to bed early the next. It’s too much. You must be consistent. I know life gets in the way sometimes, but you have to try your best. Keep it simple and keep it the same. School pick up, snack, homework or play, dinner at the same time every night, bed at eight. Kids need their sleep!! They may tell you otherwise, but they’re full of it, and you know it. So make them go to bed!
If you do not give your child a consistent routine, do not expect them to act well-behaved. Some kids are more agreeable than others, but for the love of Pete, do not drag them all over creation or get lazy with bedtime. I will have no sympathy when you get all confused and angry because they’re acting like tyrants. RESPECT a routine.
2. Communication is mind blowing important!
Without communication, you’re hosed. It’s very easy to get caught up in work or whatever else you’re doing and ignore the kids until they act up. But here’s the thing: you have to show them your interest, show them how to communicate effectively (that means no yelling) and show them that you care. You may feel it, but you have to show it, too. Stop what you’re doing, look them in the eye and listen. You expect them to do that when you’re talking, right? Well, set the example. If you’re too caught up in your own problems and let this go until they’re old enough to figure out that you don’t really give a darn, then you’re up a creek. Just try and undo that. Go ahead. The most communication you’ll get is a slammed door in your face.
- Communicate respectfully and effectively using age-appropriate words they can understand. “You may get on the computer after you’ve finished your homework and I’ve checked it for errors. After you correct any errors, you can play your game for thirty minutes.”
- Your child must have instruction on how to communicate needs, feeling, thoughts and anger with you – teach them! “We do not whine when we’re having trouble with homework. Instead, tell me, “I’m frustrated and could really use some help because I don’t understand this question.”
- You must listen when they talk! Hear what they’re saying. “Let me make sure I understand. You feel like every time you sit down to play a video game, I tell you to clean something up. Is that right?” From there you logically list out the last few times he’s played his video game and go through what he believes you nagged him to do each time. Write it all down if necessary. He may or may not have a point. If he does, make sure you concede. Demonstrate how to apologize and work on a compromise.
Kids need a set time each day, with a specific time limit, when they can play games or watch TV uninterrupted. This pulls in clear communication and structure to reduce arguments. Write your expectations down and stick to it. Get a chart together (see the chart index or visit www.TigerTamerCharts.com for ideas and charts). The best route is to start using a chore chart. For example, when daily chores and homework are finished and marked off by five o’clock, they can have 5:30-6:15 for TV or games. Just make sure to set the expectation that chores and homework must be completed first and do NOT give in to pleas of, “I promise I’ll do it right after!” No way, Charlie. When you set the expectation and make the effort to write it all down and ensure communication, everyone is going to follow it! That’s the whole point! Believe me, over time, kids will appreciate your consistency – it makes them feel secure and happy.