Imagine you receive a phone call from your child’s principal asking you to pick them up from school due to their behavior. You drive over there to take them home. In the car when you try to talk about what happened, your child is rude and talks back. So you decide they need some discipline.
You tell your kiddo that they have lost the privilege to use their tablet/video games/TV (whichever it is) for the remainder of the day. Does some form of angry or upset outburst happen?
Will your child slam doors, yell, and continue not to listen? The rest of the day is probably a fight.
Meanwhile, you’re probably wondering why don’t they just behavior so they can get their privileges back? You may even take (or threaten to take) the tablet away longer, to discipline further for the disrespectful behavior.
It’s chaotic. You’re dealing with a bored and upset child for the rest of the day. It probably feels like you’re the one being punished.
There Is A Better Way
You need to turn this situation around, so your child instead feels as though they’re being rewarded for good behavior, instead of being disciplined for bad behavior. This will give you better control over the situation.
Don’t worry they won’t be getting away with everything with no consequences and only rewards. You will still be disciplining them. But if you present the situation to your kiddo from a different perspective, 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 which often triggers a confrontation.
How To Change Their Perspect on Discipline
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, etc.
The important thing is that it’s motivating enough to your child to make them want that time.
1. Set a default amount of tablet time per day.
Decide on a short amount of tablet 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 bedtime. 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.
At our house, time is earned based on this Pokemon reward chart. Each Pokemon is worth 5 minutes of time, and there are many opportunities throughout the day to earn those pokemon. There’s even a chance to get a 30-minute bonus if all of the pokemon are collected.
3. Basically, let your child discipline himself.
Your child will learn 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 (Not lost the time itself).
So your child is now basically disciplining themselves.
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 behavioral 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 your child constantly motivated to do better. Your child will know that if they make a mistake at recess or first thing in the morning, they will still have chances to earn time throughout the day. This way, your child isn’t losing it all for one mistake.
Using positive discipline, such as this technique will also improve the parent-child relationship. There is less animosity and more opportunity for your child to be proud of themselves.
You’re removing the negativity from the situation and replacing it with positive behavior reinforcement instead.
Behavior That Must Be Dealt With Immediately
Some behaviors do need dto be ealt with right away, such as verbal or physical aggression, destructive or dangerous behavior.
Check out these 5 logical timeout tactics that will completely change your child’s behavior, as well as this guide on how to be proactive and prevent outbursts.
You can use alternative consequences for these behaviors, while still maintaining that 15 minutes of guaranteed time. Overall this will have more meaning for a strong-willed child because the revocation of all privilege triggers the oppositional behavior and then the message you are trying to get across to your child becomes lost and is meaningless to them.
Make sure that the set consequences for these behaviors are clearly explained to your child, and the same every time. For my kids – they go to bed early if there’s been any kind of physical behavior. We also use the timeout tactics discussed above to immediately intervene.