re: How do you discipline your children?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by mrsammler, May 8, 2011.

  1. mrsammler

    mrsammler Guest

    I am VERY late to the party here, but with the difficult child in my life (not my child, but I lived with him for 15 months), taking his car keys away from him and refusing to return them to him for a month (and it had to be a month of sustained good behavior) actually worked. Of course, once he got them back, he went down the drain at high speed. But it worked while I did it.

    My experience was that that's the only thing that works, or might work: deprivation of a prized privilege/toy for a lengthy period of time, with the additional proviso that he has to behave during that period of deprivation or "the clock" (i.e., the period of deprivation) starts over at zero all over again. And you HAVE to absolutely stick to the initial period of deprivation that you claimed at the outset: no "time off for good behavior." And no allowance for angry/disrespectful harangues from him/her during that period--that too will restart the "clock." In the case of really hardcore difficult child, he/she might return to misbehavior immediately after the return of the privilege--difficult children are notoriously impervious to learning from experience--but at least it works while the consequence is being levied. Or it did for me, anyway.
  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Back when the kids were small, someone (with kids, who heard it from someone with kids...) said:

    If you're struggling with behavior in your child, go look in the mirror and ask yourself what you need to change.

    Now that they are teens... it seems to be the only thing that works.

    Others on this thread have stated similar approaches... We have essentially tossed out the rule book, and replaced it with expectations. When expectations are not met (e.g. respect), we discuss what happened, why it doesn't meet the "respect" criteria, and what could have been done differently. Note: discuss, not lecture. a.k.a. Plan B. Beyond that - we try to be at least 10 steps ahead of the kids. husband is better at that than I am, so he does the forward thinking and I work on the implementation plans. We've been working on summer plans for 2 months now...

    Keep them busy with positive stuff. Figure out WHERE the behavior is coming from (we couldn't, for a long time, until we got "the book"...). Mitigate triggers. Teach alternate responses. Get help (OK, that one is hard... because the help that is available is not always the help you need, and you definitely can't always get help at the point in time you really need it - but ... it still pays to have help). We're fortunate to have 2 kids and 2 parents - when things get really tough, husband takes one and I take the other - sometimes for a whole day.

    We either discipline ourselves, and in the process model for our kids how to discipline themselves... or wear ourselves out trying to apply external discipline (punishments, rewards, etc.)

    But then... my two are "atypical" for atypical kids - really. Hard to get diagnosis, because they are "atypical" on everything! The only outside advice that has been of benefit is The Explosive Child (and its companion, Lost in School), and "Raising your Spirited Child" (which is for normal-range but atypical kids...).

    neighbors? family? school? They just don't get it at all!
  3. mrsammler

    mrsammler Guest

    Lasted edited by : May 8, 2011
  4. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    It is obviously always an ongoing topic of interest. However, this is a dinosaur thread. How about we start a new one?

  5. mrsammler

    mrsammler Guest

    Marg, I'm gonna delete my post. I think it'll cause more dispute than is useful for me or anyone--and this forum is not about debates about parenting styles. Thanks for "listening," though.
  6. Allan-Matlem

    Allan-Matlem Active Member

    Forget the instant solutions and don't spend $350 . take the money and spend it on some quality time between you and your kid. No blame, no discipline, no criticism - just connecting , you listening and getting him to speak. Focus on relationship and building trust. spend money on mentors, buddy -tutors - people who can connect with your kid.

    Instead of discipline focus on solving problems in a collaborative way which will promote relationship and skills.
    The books by Ross Greene are great - make sure you have the latest editions

    It is not easy , no magic bullet

    also spend money on nurturing yourself and learning to let go

  7. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Allen, this thread was started over 3 years ago. I'm not sure Arielle is still on CD.

    mrsammler, I'm not sure why you felt you needed to delete your post. I didn't have a problem with anything you said, there are differences of opinions always, and if you found something that worked for you, that is good. It may not suit everybody; a lot of us have found that too heavy a hand can be counterproductive. But it really does depend on the situation. It's okay. My main concern when I mentioned the post being a dinosaur, was purely that we're probably talking to thin air here, or blank cyberspace. It was not at all a criticism of your comments! Sorry if you misunderstood me.

  8. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    This is an old post and I am going to get it moved back. If we want to start a new one we can. Dont know why this
  9. runawaybunny

    runawaybunny Guest

    This topic is always of interest to someone.

    Rather than delete the whole thread I split the recent posts out of the 2008 thread and created a new thread from them in case someone has something more to say on the topic.
  10. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    I'm glad this thread was re-started....

    mrsammler had written a few posts on discipline and I was hoping for more of a discussion. He pointed out that many times, parents of difficult children adopt a goal of "return to normalcy" rather than a goal of appropriate behavior - and I admit, that is the point to which my household has denigrated.

    One of my problems is that disciplining difficult child often results in "unintended consequences"...

    IOW - I can force her to do something by being very strict and domineering...and while that may work to get her to, say, do her chores at that moment - it often results in difficult child feeling the need to vent her frustration or seek revenge. She may do this by flying into a rage....damaging property....hurting others....hurting herself....running off....or seeking out a dangerous activity. (Obviously, this is worse than whatever discipline I may have been trying to hand out.) But then a vicious cycle now requires "discipline" for difficult child's acting out - which results in a larger response from difficult child.

    Inevitably, someone will be seriously hurt - most likely a family member.

    At that point, there will be arrest or hospitalization for difficult child...

    which in the system as it exists today - likely results in difficult child being released back to her family.

    And around and round we go...

    There has to be an alternative to this ridiculousness.

    I admit that I do not know what it is - but I am open to suggestions.
  11. mrsammler

    mrsammler Guest

    I actually saved my post before I yanked it, and after some reflection, I'll post it here again, although I underscore heavily that I'm not being argumentative--I really am just responding to the thread's topic. Here it is:

    I haven't read The Explosive Child, but I have read several summaries of it, and I have to admit to some real misgivings. I just don't like the idea--at all--of letting a kid misbehave notably without punitive consequence (not corporal--I'm a big believer in the deprivation of privileges or "toys"--this would include stereo, TV, playstation, iPod, cellphone, etc for teens). I have read that TEC warns against "upping the ante" via levying punishments which will only further infuriate the difficult child , who then misbehaves some more, which forces you to levy more punishments, and before you know it you're in a game of poker with endless chips on both sides, both of you just raising and re-raising the bets into the stratosphere. I "get" that that becomes an exercise in absurdity pretty quickly.

    But my older daughter (now 22) was a very willful little kid--would fly into rages when constrained from what she wanted to do in early grade school years, and then simply defy "time-out in your room" consequences and the like--she'd just come barreling out of her room in full rage, defying us and essentially daring us to do something about it. (She was 5 or 6 at the time.) My wife and I were at wit's end as to what to do, as she was truly explosive at times but we did NOT believe in corporal punishment, so we simply put a hook-and-eye on the outside of her bedroom door and thus *forced* her to remain in her room until the rage was spent. (We would even remove the lamps from her room so that she had nothing breakable to break.) The first 3 or 4 of times we did it, she roared like a lion in her room, HUGE rages, and we had to just clench our teeth and get through it. But she would eventually calm down and would ask, still crying and upset but now quiet, if she could come out. When we let her out, she was red-faced with emotional exertion (and probably suppressed fury), but she was compliant. It felt a lot like "breaking" a horse, and that was painful to do, but it worked: she eventually "got it" and would, when she was sent to her room, simply remain quietly there and cry it out, if necessary, until she was quiet long enough for us to come and let her out. It was touch-and-go at first, but it worked. She is now halfway through college, a strong and self-disciplined and kind and loving person who takes no unnecessary guff from anyone but who is civil and reasonable and kind and a productive young adult. I have sometimes wondered what might've happened with her if we hadn't settled upon the simple solution of that hook-and-eye on her bedroom door. And I'm certain that if I had followed the counsel of TEC and "picked my battles" instead of responding very firmly and consistently to *every* misbehavior in the early going, she might be a very different person today.

    I really am not trying to be disputatious--just answering the thread's topic question of "How do you discipline your children?" Perhaps I'm a dinosaur who believes too much in the efficacy of (non-corporal) punishment and consequences. I was raised by a very authoritarian Southern father, and he was *much* more harshly punitive than I ever was as a father, and that had negative consequences in terms of our relationships with him, but by the same token we were never difficult children --the downside of misbehavior, in terms of consequences, was just way too steep to risk defiance. Meanwhile, my sister, whose older son is a *classic* hardcore difficult child --really scary to imagine how he'll turn out (he's 19)--raised him very leniently, with very inconsistent and sometimes non-existent consequences. She too has read TEC and believes in "picking your battles" and letting a lot of stuff just slide. It has not produced a well-behaved child, by a long shot--in fact, he is feared and disliked by all of his cousins who were raised in much sterner and more punitive parental environments.

    I suppose the obvious reply is that PCs are simply not the same as difficult children , innately, and that you can't compare apples to oranges, especially wrt methods of child-raising the two. I "get" that, and am open to considering those complexities. It's an absorbing topic, no matter how you slice it...and absolutely central to our most absorbing and central activity: raising our kids.

    Lastly, I am not saying--at all--that if you have a difficult child , it's because you raised him poorly. Not at all. I'm very aware that there are a great many causal and innate influences that generate a difficult child , and even luck (wrt to the peer groups they fall into) plays a large role as well. What I *am* saying is that I'm not a fan of the TEC way of child-raising, and I'm not sure it really works as well as it advertises--and I'm simply responding to this thread's topic question. I sincerely hope I haven't offended--just sharing my thoughts on this interesting topic.
  12. mrsammler

    mrsammler Guest

    Daisyface, I hear you wrt to getting into a cycle of upping the ante on both sides--i.e., your punishment and difficult child's raging misbehavior--into the realm of absurdity. That is the obvious scenario arguing for some sort of policy of suspending punishment with an explosive child and trying another tactic instead.

    But I don't think it works and it's fundamentally wrong-headed, in my estimation. Example: my difficult child nephew would misbehave badly (come home drunk, for instance--having driven home drunk) and his mother would quite justifiably announce the consequence she was going to levy (depriving him of driving privileges for a week, again for example) and then he'd blow up, call her every name in the book, shout, throw things, etc. Her policy was to stick to the original declared punishment and just ignore the rest of what he did as a response, so he'd get away with the tantrum, name-calling, throwing things around, etc. She had read TEC and had learned that this way to handle that situation. But what I saw was a kid getting away with murder, and obviously feeling empowered by it.

    My own policy, however, was to respond to each and every misdeed, just as I would with any child (that's another issue that I dislike about TEC: erecting a very different policy of childraising with a difficult child, one that's much more lenient than you uphold with your PCs, simply because his behavior is so much worse--this sends a terrible message to the PCs in the house: you get away with more misbehavior is you just go ballistic every time you're held to a consequence). I lived solo with my nephew for a few months, and when he came home drunk, I'd yank his car privileges and then, with each additional name hurled at me, he got additional weeks without the car. It quickly stacked up to 5 weeks in about a minute, and I told him he'd better knock it off or he'd be carless for the whole summer. He knew I'd do it, so he shut down his tantrum and stalked up to his room. Then I levied all 5 weeks of punishment--i.e., no car for him--and he was miserable and whined and complained about it, but he didn't rage and he didn't call me names and curse at me: he wanted a car to drive in the summertime.

    I like doing it that way far, far more than the TEC way. Again, maybe I'm a dinosaur, but it worked for me. But you gotta back it up and NOT trim the announced consequence "for good behavior" and that sort of thing (another TEC feature, I'm told). difficult child was used to being levied a 4 week penalty and then having it lifted after 5 or 6 days of good behavior (which he regarded as a huge accomplishment), and that was obviously a big part of the problem and how he got to be that way in the first place.

    Frankly, TEC just seems like an elaborate rationalization for acquiescing to a kid's rages and tantrums just to "get back to normalcy" as quickly as possible. I think if you're really committed to changing a difficult kid, you have to be ready to surrender normalcy and emphatically and unflinchingly levy consequences. Otherwise you send a message of "if you raise enough hell, I'll just roll over and let you misbehave largely without consequence." And that will reap a bitter harvest as time goes by.

    YMMV and your responses/thoughts are welcome.
  13. Allan-Matlem

    Allan-Matlem Active Member

    The opening post
    ' difficult children are notoriously impervious to learning from experience--but at least it works while the consequence is being levied. '

    The same problem goes for rewards - control through seduction - that at best it gets short term compliance. or as Ross Greene says we may be able to use a system' which makes a kid look good ', but when we remove the structure , scaffolding etc everything collapses. Wood or any other positive or negative consequences don't teach the lacking skills which these kids lack. Kids would prefer to do well, be successful , be adaptive and acceptable . If they are not , something is getting in their way - the demands placed on them in specific situations and under various conditions outstrip the skills they have to cope and act appropriately .Then Alfie Kohn reminds us - what matters is not what we ' teach kids' , but what they learn. Kids come away from these experiences - that adults are unfair and their own problem was being caught. Alfie Kohn goes further and asks if we teach to kids to ask ' what will I get if i do this or what will be done to me if i .... , we will raise kids who just think of what's in it for me rather than reflect what type of person do i want to be , does my behavior reflect this?

    Daisy - Plan A is not working , you are right to look for something different. But there is no magic bullet - Plan B - collaborative problem solving is hard , messy , takes time - but the good news is , every step of the way learning is taking place.

    Chores - in my home , if i want my home clean , it is on me , extra help is a welcome , but it for me . This liberates me emotionally and allows me to be creative in getting cooperation from kids.

    in my humble opinion , the way to go is to focus on relationship building , connecting and communication , helping kids to learn to trust you. it takes time as Star said they will initially see this as another way to get one to be compliant. That means spending one on one time , just chatting , perspective taking , getting them to speak and we listen. Older sisters, buddies, buddy-tutors, mentors , peer mentors ,personal coaches are very helpful. I can't stess the importance of positive peer influence.

    At the same time we can start working on the list of unsolved problems using Plan b and maybe finding extra resources that will help a kid acquire more skills

    it is not easy , it takes time but we have already spent years with a kid and the unsolved problems are piling up.

  14. mrsammler

    mrsammler Guest

    Allen, I'm sincerely curious: what do you do about easy child siblings when they misbehave? If a easy child hurls a profanity at you, do you just let it slide because that's what you do with difficult child when he's in a rage? If any of my kids ever cursed at me angrily (it never happened--not once), I would've yanked privileges/toys immediately and for a good long while (and they knew it, which is why they never did it--that and the fact that we had good relationships in the first place). How do I do that if I'm simultaneously letting a difficult child rage at me, call me every name in the book, and I opt to levy no consequence for that? How would I explain the injustice of that to my PCs? Again, I'm sincerely curious about this.
  15. Allan-Matlem

    Allan-Matlem Active Member

    What would happen if I said something which hurt my wife , would she then go on strike to teach me a lesson or would we talk about it and collaboratively problem solve and me in an autonomous way ( not being consequenced to buy her a gift ) try to fix the relationship.
    The method of withdrawing privileges is essentially negative: I can't communicate with you, and so I'll hurt you if you don't mind me. The positive counterpoint is: We all make mistakes, and you can trust me to help you do better in the future. Raging and profanities are symptoms to an underlying problem. Would it not be better to deal with the underlying problem than the symptom? For me , the consequences you talk about might get short term compliance , but the bigger problem you are teaching kids to think " what's in it for me " what will I get or what will be done to me ? The injustice your easy child's should feel is that there are families where problems are solved in a collaborative way , by talking rather than the parent using power . Consequences are important " I mean when a kid reflects on how his actions impact on others , not on just what will happen to him. I want kids to behave not because they don't want consequences or want to please dad , but rather " this is the type of person I want to be , a person who would never want to hurt another. And in any event , when a kid gets a consequence ,what is the kid thinking ? My mistake = getting caught , parents are unfair. What matters is not what we teach them , but what they learn.
    We might have won the battle , but not the war. I want kids to reflect , and then engage in an autonomous way in the moral act of restitution.
  16. Allan-Matlem

    Allan-Matlem Active Member

    Our differences of opinion stem from our understanding and interpretation of kids behavior , how kids learn and become self motivated.

    Consequences don't teach lacking skills and cause kids to resist. The kids here would not have behaved to get the car ( because they don't have the skills) . They would steal your car , get their friends to damage your car , break into your house , bully your kids or just prefer to forgo the perks or be grounded just to make sure you can't control them . Control by seduction is the other side of the same coin, which does not buy much.

    I doubt whether your relative was using CPS and my understanding of CPS is rather different to the way you present it.

    The vindication of the approach is that the Behaviorists are moving away from consequences , ' honey catches more flies than vinegar , the overwhelming research that extrinsic motivation may get short term results but in the long term undermines intrinsic motivation , Douglas Riley , the author of the defiant child comes out with a new book " what your explosive child is trying to tell you " a rather different book from the first book , treatment centers that have the structure to impose and follow through on consequences which parents lack are moving away from them and then take a look at the prisons - 2/3 are in their 2nd term , juvie detention centers are failures.
  17. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    I have read "The Explosive Child" and I don't see that it's letting things slide at all.

    Basket A: safety, stuff that there is no negotiating on. i.e., holding hands when crossing the street. Consequence? Child does not get to go to _____. Also basic respect - difficult child cannot become verbally or physically violent.
    Basket B: negotiable stuff. Teenagers and curfew fall here.
    Basket C: just not important enough to worry about... Like hair color/style.

    Fact of the matter is... Our difficult children don't seem to much care about discipline. They find another way around it. Or they just ignore the consequences entirely.
  18. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    I think, in my household anyway....

    that the problem is not in our parenting or our discipline (or lack thereof)...

    The problem is that difficult child has no real attachments - no empathy. So she lacks the intrinsic motivation of "wanting to please".
    After all, you'd have to care about someone to want to please them, right?

    Is empathy a skill that can be taught?
  19. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    The safest thing to say (that I think most of us can agree on) is... you have to go with what works... for everyone in the household. For some kids, the 'tough' approach works - doesn't, for either one of ours. So, we've tried other things... not that its 100% successful, but improving.

    There are, of course, three challenges with this...
    1) you first have to find what works... (not always easy or obvious)
    2) you have to stick with it... (ditto)
    3) then the kid(s) get older, and you have to go back to step 1...!

    Some day when I'm old and grey, I'll know what I should have done.
    Meanwhile... !
  20. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    I feel like I'm really at the heart of this one right now (probably we all do, most days?) - cf my post on the Early Childhood Forum. In principle I am in agreement with the collaborative approach and with what Allan-Matlem says here, for example. In practice, I sometimes use that approach and sometimes the "blackmail" (if you don't do what I want, I will do X) and the "seduction control" (if you do this, I will give you Y) techniques and I suppose they have a kind of limited, short-term success but seem to leave a distasteful, cheap feeling in the mouth and also backfire with J often saying the same kind of thing to me "If you don'r give me that cake, I'm not going to school!", which kind of shows the childish baseness of the technique really. The gold stars chart has worked quite well - I think because he takes the gold star as a sign of approbation of him and that is its reward for him, not really the prize at the end. The last chart we had went on for literally months and months before it was finally filled up and he got his "nice thing". The collaborative approach definitely works better in some way, though I find it much more demanding (of course), because I have to push through all my desires just to say "Do it! Now! Because that makes life easier for me!" and negotiate and compromise... But it definitely feels HEALTHIER and as though the long-term results of it will be healthier.
    Why am I not consistent in my approach? Probably lots of reasons - not having an alternative discipline approach around me - school is very punitive in a kind of old-fashioned way, etc which would seem to make "purism" redundant, really. And then I just lack the skills myself often, when I am caught on the run, on the hop. I can see it would be better to have a more seamless approach... Work in progress... as it maybe is for most of us. These children (I think I can confidently include my son in that category) are so demanding of us - we have to be really wise, strong, clear, all the rest of it. Sometimes I am not up to it. Sometimes I am. It's not very perfect...