Disciplining Your Kids… Like You Mean It

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Practical advice for dealing with misbehaving toddlers.


From the featured blog, Parenting BY Dummies

When #1 was my only child I considered myself something of a child development and behavioral expert.

My kid was good so obviously I was doing everything right.

Now, three kids later, not so much.

While I still like to think I’m something of a kid raising expert*, I realize that being a successful parental disciplinarian is more than just luck of the mild-mannered-by-nature-child draw.

It requires forethought (from what I hear) and deliberation.

You can’t just accidentally discipline your kids into being good citizens (actually I think you sorta can, it’s just not as sure fire as some of the other more widely suggested strategies).

But with preparation and planning you can certainly brainwash guide your child into being a responsible, productive member of society with character and manners to boot (at least that’s what I hear).

Here are a few tips anyone can employ for dealing with day-to-day childhood transgressions.

For the serious (aka crazy in an unsettling and/or frightening way) behavior issues, seek out a professional. 

A real one.

‘Cause I don’t do crazy.


Dumb Mom’s Guide to Disciplining You Kids Like You Mean It

1.  Learn these four words.  Because.  I.  Said.  So.  They are the end all and be all at Casa de Dummies.  Some people think you need to give kids logical explanations and involve them in the decision making process by giving them preapproved choices.  Something about how it helps them learn responsibility and feel empowered and stuff like that.  I say no thank you.  I don’t require empowered children.  I require obedient children who do exactly as I say (not as I do).  Besides, at least 75% of the time, no logical reason for my requests exists.  I’m pretty much just making stuff up as I go.  For example, is there a reason why I want them to go play in the play room?  Um yeah, so I can be alone.  To eat my Oreos in peace.  But, instead of saying, “Mommy wants you to go away so I can stuff my face with sweet goodness and not have to share with you,”  which would lead to time wasted on crying, complaining, begging for inclusion and the like, I like to say, “Because I said so.”  Gets the mommy-quest-to-gain-20lbs-by-summer show on the road!

2.  Be creative.  They are after all.  The Dudes come up with the most inventive, surprising ways to get into mischief.  So, I say, “Hey Kid, I’ll see your decoupaging of your brother, and raise you a decoupage in your toothpaste tube.”  I didn’t expect to have my toddler covered in craft glue, and I bet he will be pretty surprised to have his lips glued to his teeth!  I know the “experts” go on and on about being a role model for your children, and being consistent in selecting a punishment that fits the crime, but again, I advise people to do things that work for their family, and if your child responds best to this sort of “creative” punishment then so be it.  Some kids need to have their mouths glued shut a couple of times before they realize that you are a force to be reckoned with.

3.  Bribery.  It works.  In pretty much every scenario you come up with, bribery will have moderate to extreme success and should therefore always be considered a viable option for getting results.  I use it daily.

4.  Consistency.  In all seriousness (I hope you realize that the first 3 responses were pretty much for fun, mostly), the most important advice (next to don’t laugh, I don’t care how funny your toddler’s cursing is, you can NOT laugh) I can give parents when it comes to disciplining their children is consistency.**   Children (and adults really) need to know what to expect when it comes to discipline.  They need to know what the consequences for their actions are going to be beforehand, and when they commit a behavioral offense their expectations need to be met pretty much every time.  If this does not occur children get confused about what’s expected of them and this confusion leads them to test the limits.  Limit testing, for the record, is BAD.

5.  Positivity, negotiation, and responsibility.  Big words for such a dumb mom, eh?  Once you’ve mastered consistency and everyone is on the same how-to-behave-or-else page you can move along to the fun stuff!  Focusing on the positive (you know, catching your kid doing something good and calling him out on it); negotiating your way through slip ups (because they are bound to happen; kids are human after all); and teaching your little people how to own up to transgressions (naturally their first inclination will be to deny, deny, deny; it’s your job to teach them that it’s wrong, even though it really does feel kind of right).  Personally, I have a hard time remembering to catch my dudes being good.  I think it’s that my kids are so darn bad I am so busy trying to prevent the naughty that I forget one of the best ways to do that is by consistently (there’s that word again!) praising the positive. 

There you have it, the so-easy-a-dummy-can-do-it guide to making your kids easy to be around.

Seriously, if I can do this stuff, you can too!

*Dumb Mom holds a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Maryland, College Park.  No one said she was uneducated!

*For real.  Consistency is the key. 

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