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Discipline That Works

Updated on May 17, 2014
They look like me, talk like me, but they don't have to be like me!
They look like me, talk like me, but they don't have to be like me! | Source

Simple, yet, effective!

"Your children are really nice and so respectful ." That's one of the sweetest phrases I've ever heard and I hear it often. I cannot recall any occasion where I had to tell someone, "you'll like my kids because they're great" or "I know you'll love my kids". I know they will like them. I don't have to prompt them with complements by me about my kids, they will see for themselves.

When I started raising kids I worried. I knew my childhood was not something I wanted to pass down. Everything I read told me that my children will be like me regardless of what I do. This was not completely true. Yes, my kids look very similar to me, they make certain motions and gestures like me, but the things I didn't want to pass down to my kids, I didn't. Effective discipline was the key for me to open the door I wanted my children to pass through and lock the door I had come through myself.

At a point in time your kids just get too big to spank. I never was a spanker, but if you are you need new strategies when they get this big!
At a point in time your kids just get too big to spank. I never was a spanker, but if you are you need new strategies when they get this big!

13 Year Old Challenge

You are most likely going to start to see some challenges with your children when they hit the teen years.

My son was thirteen when the discipline challenge bullied me into a corner. My son had always been a good student, not great, but above average, when one quarter he brought home a report card reflecting a "D" in math. Of course we trudged through the list of excuses he offered me. Using my best "Mommy" look and tone of voice I told him under no uncertain terms was he to bring home another "D".

My stern scolding seemed to work, until I received a note from his teacher that he wasn't turning in his work. Then another note informing me of problems with his behavior and acting disrespectfully, even causing dangerous situations for others. I gave him another firm scolding and restricted him from his xbox. My thought was, "If I take away the xbox then he'll straighten up so he could play the xbox again.

I may as well have punished myself! The only thing restricting him from the Xbox did was he was now bored! When your child is bored, who do they turn to and complain? You, their parent! My son turned to me for entertaining or should I say for "irritating". His father came to take him for the weekend and he allowed our son to play the Xbox at his house all weekend long. Totally sabotaging any effect I was trying to have on our boy. The discipline I had been working on all week was completely undermined.

When my son brought home his report card at the end of that quarter he had an "F". "Well mom, at least it's not a "D" right?" he tells me with a smirk. I am beside myself with feelings of failure as a parent, worries about his future and where he's going to go in life with this new found freedom to earn an "F". I poured over child rearing books, Barnes and Noble was like a second home for me, you could find me in the parenting section every afternoon. I needed help and I needed it now.

Create a Checklist

Create a checklist either mentally or on paper of what the situation you're dealing with involves. Putting it down on paper can make it a lot clearer what needs to be done.

  • I want something from him, better grades.
  • He knows I want something from him.
  • I need to convince him this is something HE wants otherwise it won't work.
  • I need leverage.
  • What is important to him on a personal level?

Help Never Arrived

Help never arrived. Nothing I read gave me the step-by-step instructions I was looking for. It also seemed like what was suggested I had already tried. I was on my own with this one.

Out of frustration I grabbed a pencil and started writing down what the problem was, what I wanted to change and how I wanted it to change. I ended up with this:

  • I want something from him, better grades.
  • He knows I want something from him.
  • I need to convince him this is something HE wants otherwise it won't work.
  • I need leverage.
  • What is important to him on a personal level?

Putting the problem on paper really made it clear for me and I had an answer!

He Started Communicating With His Teachers!!

My son was so intent on getting his beloved black clothing back as soon as possible he contacted his teachers after each class asking what he needed to do to improve his grades. He was communicating with his teachers!! To breach the communication gap between student and teacher is an important bridge. Sit through a class at your child's school and pay attention to how many students have nothing to say to the teacher. They sit in the back, come and go without a word and some of them have very poor grades. To get that same student to approach his teacher asking for help is incredible!

Never Ever

Please remember something that I live by: Never, ever discipline your child when you are angry. Even if you must say your too upset and you need to finish it later, say it, and come back to it later. Sometimes people say and do things they regret when they are angry. This is your child, take time to calm down so you can discipline them in a positive, effective manner, for them and for you.

Put My Plan into Action!

My son loves his black clothing. As a matter of fact he won't wear anything besides black. Black shirt, black pants, black shoes, black socks, he even went so far as to dye his hair from blonde to black!

One afternoon when he brought home his attitude, along with a math test he failed.....again. Very calmly I told him, "This is not acceptable. Your only job in our home is to earn good grades at school. Since you choose not to fulfill this, then I will not fulfill my job to you of providing the clothing you enjoy wearing." He dismissed me with a, "Yeah, ok mom." and went to his room.

That weekend he went to visit his father. I went collecting. I gathered every item of black clothing I could find. I washed any items that were dirty, then I folded it all nicely and stowed it in a black bag. I placed the black bag where I knew it could not be found and it would be safe (Hiding a huge, black bag, of clothes wasn't easy. It was heavy!). The point isn't to harm his belongings.

When my son returned from visiting his father I told him we needed to talk about his grades and attitude. I actually felt quite sad inside for what I was about to tell him. He brought his attitude into my room and I told him, "I don't like the grades your bringing home. I know you can do far better." He made a sarcastic remark, then I continued, "In order to help you attain better grades I have taken away all your black clothing, all except what you are wearing right now". I can remember to this day, the way the color drained from his face, I could see panic tear through his mind. He was so stunned that he just stood there, tears welling up into his eyes. I went on, "If you want your clothing back, you can earn it. For every "A" you bring home you may choose one black clothing item. Until you bring home an "A" you will have nothing but the rainbow of colors in your drawers now."

When I had finished my son rushed into his bedroom. He didn't believe me, I heard him opening and closing drawers.

The next morning, when he had to dress for school, he was upset and demanding I give him something to wear. I reminded him he has plenty of clothes in his drawers, just nothing black. It was NOT easy, but I I stuck to my plan and reminded him "for every "A" you bring home you can have an item." I walked away and busied myself so he couldn't argue with me anymore.

I was astonished at the effect it had on him. I knew his black clothes were important to his whole public personality, but the turn around I had been trying to accomplish for so long was happening now. He stopped asking for clothes after three or four days. If he was rude to me, I would tell him, "That's not going to help get any of your clothes back" and he would rephrase.

After about two weeks he brought home a note from his teacher stating that his grades had improved dramatically. I telephoned the teacher and she told me my son had asked her to let him know when his grades were better and what he could do to achieve a better grade (He was communicating with his teachers!) So she wrote the note because he was doing so much better suddenly.

When progress reports arrived he had "A". I was so happy and so was he. I asked him what item he wanted and I retrieved it for him before school the next day. It was his black concert t-shirt. He was thrilled to have that shirt back. As the months progressed he slowly but surely was able to earn his clothing back.

My son is twenty one now and attending Chico State U. He sent me a letter recently thanking me for instilling in him the importance of school. He remembers the black clothing he had to earn back. He thanks me for it.


I never had to take her hair conditioner away.
I never had to take her hair conditioner away.

Personalize the Discipline to Your Situation

When it came time for creative discipline for my daughter who wouldn't help with house work at all, ever, I decided on confiscating her hair conditioner. Her hair is everything to her. She is her hair and her hair is her. I told her that if she refused to help with the chores around the house then starting immediately I would be forced to remove the hair conditioner from her shower. That night after dinner she cleared the table and washed the dishes with out me saying a word.

Be creative when you discipline your child. Personalize the discipline to your situation and your child. You know him/her better than anyone else, what is personal enough to cause a change.


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