Thursday, March 20, 2008

Changing the way we discipline kids

The website Empowering Parents has an interesting article from Behavioral Therapist James Lehman that could change the way you punish your kids for bad behavior. You might not use the word punish anymore!

He gives some interesting examples that seem obvious once they are pointed out. He says the consequence for a child doing something wrong should be constructive. For example, if your child sleeps in and misses school, he/she does not lose television privileges for a week. Instead, you makes the child go to bed early for the next three nights. That way there are consequences for bad behavior, but you are not getting your child back by punishing him/her.

"It’s also important to make the consequence task-oriented, not time-oriented. A time-oriented consequence is when you tell your child he’s grounded for a week or can’t use his cell phone for two weeks. It’s ineffective because all it does is teach kids how to “do time.” It does not teach them how to change their behavior," said Lehman.

What does Lehman suggest we do when kids argue? He said, "The best consequences are those from which the child learns something. If your son is disrespectful to his sister, a good consequence is to tell him he can’t use the phone until he writes her a letter of apology. In the letter, he has to tell her what he’ll do differently the next time he’s in conflict with her."

Lehman says when you are thinking about how to discipline your child, think about what you want to accomplish. Maybe you want them to be nicer to a sibling, get their homework completed or stop putting their shoes in the middle of the floor. Think of consequnces that will lead to those results instead of just a blanket punishment like being grounded.

The advice makes sense to me. I think some of us do these things without thinking about it, but it sure is a good reminder. My son is really too little to be grounded, but we have taken the T.V. privileges away before and the instance had nothing to do with T.V. I missed that opportunity to be constructive.

What do you think about this parening advice?

-NewsAnchorMom Jen

P.S. I have mentioned many time my son has night terrors. I found out this week enlarged tonsils are probably the culprit. I can't believe it took two years to figure this out! I interviewed a surgeon today and will give you all the juicy details in a few days. Who knew night terrors and enlarged tonsils were connected?


Alyssa said...

Hi, News Anchor Mom. Long time reader, first time commenter. I think that the idea of "logical consequences" is a good one in theory but often not in practice. Have you read the book Positive Discipline by Jane Nelsen? She has a whole chapter devoted to this concept. She says that she used to advocate this method for years until she realized that most parents were using it as a disguised form of punishment. I recommend checking out the book for more details. She provides lots of great ideas and alternatives to punishment and "logical consequences." said...

Hi Alyssa,
I will certainly check out that book. I think my son is just now getting to the age where we really have to start thinking about consequences. He mainly gets "time outs" at this point. Thanks for your comment!
What does Jane recommend for punishment?

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