Discipline litmus test

Are your discipline methods working? There are many ways to discipline children, but often, it’s hard to know whether our discipline methods are working. In the heat of the moment, you may send your child to his room for isolation and later think that maybe taking away his TV privileges would have been more effective.

So how can you know for sure whether your discipline methods are working? There’s one simple question you can ask yourself: Do my child’s behaviors change after my usual form of discipline? If so, then what you are doing is working. If not, you need to reevaluate your methods.

I once heard someone say that the definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I’m not calling anybody crazy, but it’s a nice idea to remember when you’re feeling frustrated that your child’s behaviors aren’t improving. If things aren’t working, you need to change your methods.

It’s hard not to get stuck in the same routine with the same discipline methods. After all, it is far easier to send your preschooler to his room when something like cancelling a playdate would be more effective. Here are some creative discipline ideas to try:

  • Old method: Tell your child over and over to stop grabbing things off the shelf at the grocery store.
  • New method: Ask the store clerk to put your cart in the cooler and take your child home for discipline. Send your spouse back to the store later to pay for the groceries.
  • Old: Threaten your child with a timeout when he’s screaming in the car.
  • New: Don’t get in the car until he has stopped screaming. If you are already on the road, pull over and get out. Nobody wants to be in a confined space with a screamer!
  • Old: Push toy after toy at your toddler to quiet him in a restaurant.
  • New: Take him to a quiet place in the restaurant (like the restrooms) or outside and firmly explain the behavior you expect of him.
  • Old: Feel rushed and stressed getting your child to school on time because he won’t get out of bed.
  • New: Let him be late and don’t bail him out.

Also consider that perhaps the behavior doesn’t need discipline at all. I notice that when my kids are getting restless, things can easily snowball out of control. One minute, they’re a little silly. The next minute, they’re running around the house chasing each other and getting hurt. I certainly do discipline when it gets to this point, but it’s far better if I stop them at the point of silly and pull out a bin of toys for them to play with. Channeling that energy into something more productive is far more effective than disciplining after the fact.

Any parent’s ultimate goal is to instill in the child a sense of right and wrong. If your methods aren’t accomplishing this then you need to rethink your discipline and find a new way that will give you the results you are looking for.



Filed under first-time obedience, moral training, parenting philosophy

3 responses to “Discipline litmus test

  1. I found your blog this week and have been devouring everything you have written. I am still not through reading each post, but I love what I am reading. I couldn’t find a place to contact you directly so I am just leaving my questions here. I had hear of babywise when I was pregnant, but had no idea it went beyond the new baby stage. I obviously waited too long with my son who turned 2 last month. He was such an easy going baby and even seemed to listen so well to direction. Around 22 months he really started acting out & I have been on a frantic search for discipline ideas and strategies since. Most days I totally feel like I am going crazy because I tell him the same things over and over, and he doesn’t listen at all.

    I wrote all of that to ask…what book you would recommend starting with for a just turned 2 year old. Other then reading your blog over the last week I am really not familiar at all with the Ezzo’s teachings or even how to begin with the 1st time obedience.

    Thanks so much!

  2. Maureen

    Hi Melissa. I’m glad you like the blog. My little one flipped a switch when he turned two (in October) and we are working hard right now to break him of many of his bad habits (tantrums, whining) and at the same time training him on things like staying near me at a store, putting his hand on the car in the parking lot, etc. It’s hard work, but I definitely see a difference on the days that I don’t work with him. Be sure to read my posts on “yes, mommy” and “eye contact”. These will help prevent you from repeating yourself, which will teach him to listen and obey.

    As for which book, I would have you read On Becoming Pre-Toddlerwise (12-18 months) and On Becoming Toddlerwise (18-36 months). I think it’s important when you’re just starting to go back a few months in your reading to see if there’s anything you should have covered before now. Pre-Toddlerwise is brand spanking new, so I have to admit I haven’t read it yet. But I have heard good things about it. And Toddlerwise is a good, solid book that I’m currently re-reading. Good luck!

  3. Lynn

    I would highly recommend the Mom’s Notes tapes as well-after you have read the GKGW materials.

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