Scenario: You get a call from your son’s principal saying he was in trouble at school and you need to come pick him up early. You drive over there and take him home. In the car when you try to talk to him, he is rude and talks back. You decide to discipline him, and tell him that he has lost his privilege to use his tablet (or whichever item of your choosing) for the remainder of the day. Some type of angry outburst ensues.
Is he angry at your for the rest of the day? Does he slam doors, yell, continue not to listen? The rest of the day is probably a fight. Meanwhile, you are wondering why he doesn’t just behave so he can get his tablet back. You may even take the tablet away longer , to discipline further for the disrespectful behaviour.
Its chaotic. You are always arguing. Why doesn’t he listen? Does this sound familiar? (P.S I really hope it sounds familiar, and that this scenario isn’t just me!)
There Is A Better Way
What if you could turn this around, so your child instead felt as though they’re being rewarded for good behaviour, instead of being disciplined for bad behaviour? You might call it reverse psychology. Don’t worry he won’t just be getting away with everything with no consequences and only rewards. You can still discipline, but when you look at it from a different angle, you can make it appear more positive. This method tends to be more effective on the oppositional or strong willed child compared to traditional discipline.
This Is What It Looks Like
I will be using tablet time as an example because that is what my own son uses most often. Feel free to substitute with whatever is your child’s favorite thing – video games, a favorite toy, a later bed time, etc. The important thing is that it’s motivating.
1. Set a default amount of tablet time per day.
Decide on a short amount of tablet time (or whatever time) for your child that they get every single day, no matter what. I will explain why later. In our house, it is 15 minutes on the tablet at bed time. It’s best to keep their guaranteed time short and sweet.
2. Decide how they can earn additional tablet time.
How time is earned is up to you. We struggled with school last year. J was being sent home a lot and discipline didn’t work at all. We set up a system where he could earn up to 3 check marks from his teacher per day (morning, after recess, and afternoon). Each check mark would earn him 15 more minutes of tablet time. This means he had the chance to earn an hour in total on his tablet before bed. If he only had a check mark from the morning, he gets 30 minutes on the tablet . Two check marks for 45 minutes, and so on.
3. Basically, let your child discipline himself.
You child will know that doing X,Y,Z is required to earn tablet time. Not completing what is expected means they’ve lost the chance to earn the time. So your child is now basically disciplining themselves.
Ta Da! Less Arguing and Outbursts
You aren’t taking away anything anymore, so that is one less thing to argue with your child about. Instead, you’re the nice mom whose giving more time. Not earning the time is all on them.
Why the guaranteed time? The short amount of guaranteed time is for a reason. For children, especially those with behavioural challenges like ADHD or ODD, if they lose their privileges for the whole day, they are going to feel like there’s nothing to work for anymore. So if your child feels like they have nothing to work for, they will have no motivation. If there’s no motivation, they’ll no longer care if they stay out of trouble or not. This will cause both of you to have a tough day.
The guaranteed time, along with the multiple chances throughout the day to earn additional time will keep you child motivated to do better. Your child will know that if they makes a mistake at recess and pushes a child, they’ll still have a chance in the afternoon to earn another 15 minutes. This way, your child isn’t losing it all for one mistake.
Using positive discipline, such as this technique helps to improve the parent-child relationship. There is less animosity and more opportunity for your son to be proud of himself. You’re removing the negativity from the situation and replacing it with positive behaviour reinforcement instead.
Behaviour You Need to Deal With Right Away?
Some behaviours do need dealt with right away, such as verbal or physical aggression, destructive or dangerous behaviour. Check out these 5 logical timeout tactics that will completely change your child’s behaviour. You can use alternative consequences for behaviour, while still maintaining that 15 minutes of guaranteed time. Over all this will have more meaning for a strong willed child because the revocation of all privilege triggers the oppositional behaviour and then the message you are trying to get across to your child becomes lost and is meaningless to them.