Saturday, March 21, 2015

How do you discipline your kids?

We were having dinner with some of our friends and the topic of the disciplining of children came up. Some talked about spanking, while others talked about reasoning. Regardless, chances are there will be ONE parent who does the disciplining while the other uses that parent as a threat.

D is the fun-loving parent. He has the patience to play with them, to reason with them and to just have fun with them. The kids adore him and will choose to play with him over me ANY time.
But just because he plays with them doesn't mean that the kids listen to him when it is time for disciplining. Hence D's favorite line "I tell Mummy.." (In fact, that's everyone's favorite line)

D and I (mainly I) tried many ways of disciplining… From spanking to reward charts to reasoning to the ever famous naughty corners. There were a few times each worked, but there were times when the methods fell flat. 
Of course, when Audrey was in Cherrybrook Kindergarten, the tutor taught us some methods that we actually found more effective than others! So here's a write up on the reviews of the methods we tried:

1) Naughty Corner
D and I started the naughty corner with Audrey. Audrey knew how to count and initially when we started this, we would get Audrey to go to a corner and count to 10 before coming back.

M: Go to that corner and count to 10
(After Audrey finishes her counting, she comes back)
M: Are you ready to behave?
A: No
M: Okay fine. Go back there and count to 20
(Happily walks to a corner and counts. After so, she comes back and reports)
M: Are you ready to behave?
A: Yes
M: Are you now willing to listen to mummy and sit still? 
A: Yes (And she gives you the biggest smile ever and is more receptive on being disciplined)

The ever famous spot in our house...
You can say that it was easy but to even put her in the spot initially was hell… in fact, it was really painful to get all 3 of them to stay at the spot at first. You put them there, they move and run away from the corner. I lost count of how many times we had to carry them back to the spot. But they get the idea at one point. They can't win the parent (mummy in this case) and after a while, they just stay there until they have cooled down. 

The naughty corner works best when our kids throw a tantrum. (Do note that if they are tired, this is probably one method which will drain you out most. At such times, I hardly use this method or if I do, it will be for short periods) It makes them cool down and lets them realize that their tantrums won't get them anywhere.

2) Spanking 
All our kids have been spanked. But we draw the line on using the cane. While we both got caned by our parents and we are fine, D isn't comfortable with that. He believes that there are better methods than that. I listened to his stand and respected it. (He's their father regardless) We didn't know how we will discipline the kids subsequently, but we tried not to consider caning as an option.

However, we still spank them regardless. We do so mainly when they are stubborn or when they are disrespectful. 

3) Reward Chart
The ever popular stickers used...
We tried once… and only once. (and we didn't even finish it) To be fair, as much as it catches everyone's interest at first, sustaining it is another matter all together. That's our problem. It was hard work to keep track of their good behavior and giving them stickers for it everyday. 
But we also felt at one point, they were only behaving because they want to rewarded, not because they learnt the better thing to do.
What's worse is that this system depends heavily on their moods. If they felt like it, they behave and asked for their stickers, if they didn't, they still went back their old ways. Also, Audrey being the competitive one, always tried to have more stars on her chart than Isaac. After a while, D and I thought it wasn't exactly one of the best system and we discontinued it.

4) Asking "What" questions 
It is common that we always ask the children "Why", like "Why aren't you sharing your toys?" or "Why didn't you behave yourself".. etc. Audrey's tutor in Cherrybrooks taught us that asking why questions usually create a stumbling block. The children at one point, may not understand why they did so, and another they aren't sure what answer the adult is trying to get so that they will not be in trouble.
So we ask "What" questions instead.

Isaac was sitting on the sofa with his legs stretched out. Audrey wanted to sit at the edge of the sofa, however, Isaac was insistent not to let her do so, despite her asking nicely.

M: Isaac, can you move your legs and let her sit on the sofa?
I: No
M: What is stopping you from moving your legs?
I: (thought for a while) Nothing..
M: If nothing is stopping you, can you let her sit?
I: No
M: Okay. Is there anything I can do to help that?
I: No.
M: So is anything stopping you to move your legs again?
I: No
M: Can you now move your legs and let her sit?
I: Okay. 

Apparently, "What" questions make it less threatening. You may want to consider using that, this is one of the highly recommended methods!

5) Focus on what virtue can be practiced
A list of virtues that the school focuses on...
One of the reasons why I like Cherrybrook Kindergarten is their emphasis on virtues. Like some afternoons when Audrey sits and does her revision work with me, she does have her moments of procrastinating and gets distracted.

A: Mummy, I don't want to do already
M: Audrey, you are almost done. You just have half a page left. Can you practice some perseverance and self-discipline and finish it? After which, you can take a short break.
A: (thought for a while) okay…

So instead of saying to your child, "Don't be shy.", another way is to say "Let's practice the virtue of courage and friendliness and make some friends". My kids still need some encouragement here and there, but with consistency, they are getting there. Saying things like "Shy" or "Lazy" just highlights and gives them the reason to continue behaving the way they were, there was nothing (positive) for them to work on.

Whatever methods I use, I always end the discipline session with a hug and a kiss, reminding them that I love them a lot.
Discipling is a pain, but lack of discipline is worse. Do you have any methods that you use and don't mind sharing? Hope to hear stories from you too! 

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