Actions that Encourage Obedience
When children do not do what they have been asked to do, privileges can be withdrawn until they cooperate. Because they are in control of the length of the consequence, desired results usually happen quickly. When children do things they have been told not to do, privileges can be taken away for a specific period of time. Such punishments do not guarantee that children will act appropriately. They only ensure that parents have done their part to help young people follow rules.
However, children will learn from their mistakes when punishments are designed to.
TYPES OF PUNISHMENTS
The greater the variety of punishments parents use, the more effective they will be. The following are reminders on the do’s and don’ts of common punishments.
Hands-on action allows parents to take advantage of their size and strength. When you use your voice, you are on the same level as your children. They can scream as loudly as you can. When children do not respond to one verbal request, take prompt action. In many cases, you can interrupt disobedience and then provide an immediate chance to perform the desired behavior.
Time-out is a consequence that interrupts undesirable behavior, focuses attention, and creates the earliest possible opportunity for correct conduct. One minute per every year of age is a standard guideline for the length of time-out. A baby who eats dirt can be put in the crib for one minute. A preschooler who leaves the house or yard unattended can be placed in a corner for four minutes. The following increase the effectiveness of a time-out.
Essays are an excellent way to logically relate a consequence to a “crime.” They require children to concentrate, think about their behavior, empathize with others, and comply with parents. Very young children can make “pictorial essays” or copy a simple sentence.
Depending on the child’s age, an essay, sentence, or picture can cover the following points:
Making a casual, empathic response will empower you and can defuse nonstop tirades. For example, if you are told that you are ungrateful, you can:
Even resistant children will write an essay when they are told they will have no privileges until it is correctly completed. Children may need to interview their parents or even do research to complete (a). If children are given only one sentence to write, it is much better for them to cover (a) than to make promises they may not keep. Do not correct children’s reasoning on (b) and (c), even if you disagree. Children can write the essay more than once, depending on the seriousness of the rule broken. For example, a 13-year- old who has been sneaking out at night might be required to rewrite the essay every night for a week.
Restrictions are a form of time-out for older children. Privileges such as using the phone, visiting friends, using the car, or having time alone can be taken away. Be specific about the length of restrictions, but do not make decisions in the heat of anger. Lengthy restrictions often punish parents and do not give children the opportunity to demonstrate that they can change their behavior. Restrict or supervise contact with friends with whom your child tends to break rules, but never criticize a child’s choice of friends. Explain restrictions in terms of misbehavior, not character. When possible, allow children to reduce the length of restrictions by writing an essay or correcting misbehavior. For example, allow your children to go out with friends if they succeed in coming home on time five days in a row.
Spankings are not recommended in this action-oriented approach for the following reasons:
Reference: More ideas on firm parenting can be found in Back in Control by Gregory Bodenhamer (Simon & Schuster, 1984).