Create a discipline plan

As with everything in life, success in parenting comes with practice and planning. When you have a plan for discipline, you are not caught off guard by your child’s misbehavior and can respond with the most effective method of discipline. A discipline plan will allow you to:

  • Remain calm in the face of your child’s worst behaviors.
  • Issue a punishment that fits the crime.
  • Ensure consistency.
  • Get to the root of misbehaviors with discipline that teaches a lesson.

Identify chronic misbehaviors

Your first step in creating a discipline plan is identifying your child’s worst and most chronic misbehaviors. Think back a week or two. Pay attention over the next few days. Does your toddler drop his spoon from the highchair after every meal? Does your preschooler give you attitude every time you pick him up from school? Does your preteen frequently forget his lunch?

Be as specific as possible when identifying misbehaviors so you won’t have any problem recognizing them when they happen again.

Identify at least one misbehavior, but try to limit it to four or five. You want to do this for yourself and your child. You don’t want to exacerbate your child by disciplining for too many misbehaviors at once. And you don’t want to feel so overwhelmed that things are so bad you might as well not even try.

Decide on an effective discipline method

Once you have identified your child’s problematic behaviors, sit down to decide which forms of discipline are most effective. If you’re unsure, start small. Perhaps a verbal admonishment (and consistency) is all he needs for one particular misbehavior. But if it’s a behavior that’s been going on for months and none of your other methods have worked to eliminate it, perhaps a more painful consequence will be more effective.

Again, be as specific as possible. Think through how long you will take away his toys or how many days he will go without TV privileges. If you determine that a timeout is the best discipline method, write down the steps to implement one effectively.

The most important consideration when deciding on discipline methods is choosing one you can follow through on without hesitation. If you’re reluctant to take away your child’s favorite toy (and you know you would have a hard time in the heat of the moment), don’t use that as one of your discipline methods. You want to choose methods that you can be consistent with even in your weakest moments.

Post your discipline plan

Post your discipline plan somewhere in the house where you can refer to it often. You don’t want to go through all this work only to forget it all. Post it on the refrigerator or a kitchen cabinet.

Make your discipline plan a living document

Your discipline plan will change as your child does. As you conquer one misbehavior, you can cross it off the list and add another. Be sure to stay on top of your child’s misbehaviors and not ignore the ones that aren’t on your plan. Make notes on your plan about whether the discipline method you chose has been working and how long the misbehavior has been going on. If the behavior doesn’t go away in a week or two, it’s time to choose a new discipline method. Or you may discover that one discipline method you chose is too harsh for the misbehavior. Your discipline plan is not set in stone. Make notes and change it as you see fit.

In my next post, I’ll share my discipline plan with you.



Filed under discipline

3 responses to “Create a discipline plan

  1. Allison Foster

    This is awesome, timely advice. I love my 20 month old son to death, but every day it feels like battle and I am the loser! Please post your discipline plan soon, I can’t wait to see it! And, if you could give A LOT of examples of consequences, that would be great. That’s what I really struggle with – coming up with consequences. For my son, his biggest behavior issue is his temper tantrums. It’s like when he’s frustrated or angry or sad, he just immediately starts wailing and thrashing around. It’s so frustrating. The times he consistently does it are when he needs to be changed, or when he wants to get down from the table and we are trying to train him to say “down please,” or “all done,” instead of just whining. If you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them because it’s hard for me to correct attitude. We usually do time outs, which are effective at getting him to calm down in the moment, but like today, he was in time out like 5 times at least – I lost count after a while. I don’t know that it’s the most effective. I can’t really take away tv time – he does like videos, but he doesn’t watch them every day, so it’s not like he’d miss them. He does have one favorite toy, but it’s also like his security blanket that he can’t sleep without and he is really awful without sleep! Thanks for your help!

  2. Maureen

    I think timeouts are appropriate for a 20-month-old who is throwing a tantrum. Just make sure you are doing them right. Refer to my posts on timeouts the Ezzo way here and here. You need to make sure he has a happy heart before getting out of timeout or he will go straight back to what he’s doing wrong. And be sure you are consistent with them. The younger the child is the more important consistency is. As for requiring him to say “down please” or whatever, just make sure you aren’t getting into a power struggle over it. I agree that it’s nice, but it might be hard for him to verbalize that so consistently. I might require him to sign or call your name. I agree that whining is something you need to curb, but just make sure HOW you fight that battle is the right way to go. Here’s my post about power struggles.

    Look for my discipline plan post today or tomorrow.

  3. Allison Foster

    Thanks, that is great advice. I’ll review the posts about time out. I looked at the power parenting one, my face was turning red as I read it because the example you used with the parent trying to get their kid to take a nap, and going in over and over to try to get them to go to sleep is ME! I have a lot to learn! 🙂 Thanks for this website and your help, it is a tremendous blessing!

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