Friday, September 12, 2008

Have a Plan for Discipline Part 1

It happens to all of us as parents. We are at a loss for how to deal with a child’s behavior. Is it a time out, a spanking, a lecture, take away a privilege, give an explanation, ignore them, physically move the child to another room, put him on restriction … what is the right consequence for a particular behavior and how do I administer it most effectively?!

We have now come to Passionate Legacy Principle #6: Have a plan for discipline. Learn what consequences should be applied to which behaviors, so that when the situation arises you are prepared to act decisively.

Before we can respond with the best possible discipline we must first understand what type of behavior is causing the problem. In this post, we will examine FIVE types of inappropriate behavior and in upcoming articles we will look at effective ways of dealing with each one.

The first is disobedience. The child simply does not comply with something a parent is telling her to do. “It’s time to go home now,” says the parent, and the child simply ignores it. Dad says, “Put the toy away, please,” and little Suzie responds with a very polite “No. I’m not done playing.” Mom explains, “You may not take the cracker into the living room, we keep our snacks at the table,” and Joey keeps walking with the cracker toward the TV. This type of situation may be very calm and cool or they may escalate into angry defiance with screaming and tears, but the basic behavior is the same: the child refuses to do what he is being told by the parent to do. This is disobedience and this is more common with younger children who are beginning to assert their own self-will.

Next is attention-getting-behaviors. These are things a child does to bring them lots of attention. Whining, arguing for no apparent reason, throwing a fit, asking lots of questions that they know the answer to, pestering a sibling, being bossy to other children or even adults, or yelling things like “I hate you!” are all examples of attention-getting-behaviors.

Third is breaking rules and routines. Where disobedience is not obeying a direct request at the time it is given, breaking rules and routines is when a child fails to comply with something they should not have to be reminded to do. Examples are: failing to do homework, not getting off to school on time, not cleaning up after oneself, going into off-limits places, not completing homework on time, and playing on the computer past the time limit. This type of behavior is more easily recognized and more common with older children. Many parents fall into the pattern of constantly reminding or nagging the child to do what they know is expected, and it feels like the parent is working harder than the child.

Next is deliberately hurting others. Other destructive or aggressive behavior could be placed in this category as well, like throwing toys or yelling at another person in a fit of rage. Sometimes a child might even hurt themselves. Although pestering a sibling might be an attempt to get attention, especially if it is only when a parent is around, violent and aggressive behavior toward a sibling would fall into this category.

The last category is wrong behavior rooted in real problems. In this category there is a real problem, need or conflict in which a child needs help, but do not know the proper way to get the help or solve the problem. A child has a legitimate need, say hunger, and whines to try to meet that need, “I----I’m Huuuuungry." Or he has a conflict with another child over a toy and it leads to a fight. They are not trying to get attention or disobey, they need help resolving a real life problem.

So, the five types of inappropriate behavior are:

1. Disobedience

2. Attention Getting

3. Rule and Routine Breaking

4. Deliberately Hurting Others

5. Wrong Behavior Rooted in Real Problems

Next time, we will begin to look at specific forms of discipline and responses to each of these types of behavior.

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