Tuesday, September 2, 2008

"Delay" Discipline

If there's something I hate to do, that is to discipline my children. Wouldn't the world be a wonderful place if kids just did what they were supposed to do and we never had to be witchy to them? I wonder if God sometimes wishes that His children would just do what He says, too. It's great that we were given free agency to choose as we will, but that means that our kids will choose as they will as well. (That was a mouthful.) Much of the time they make good decisions, because they have great parents as their examples, right? :) But sometimes they make the wrong decisions and we, as parents, have to teach them in some form or another that that needs to be fixed.

This is where my problem comes in. I'm all about disciplining when the need arises, but I don't like to do it right at the moment the untoward deed occurs because I'm usually angry and say things in a tone that my kids construe as yelling. (Does that ever happen to you? You know you didn't yell, but your kids say, "Why are you yelling at me?") Conversely, if I wait to discipline them once I calm down, they are in a good mood and have forgotten all about it and I hate to ruin the good rapport we have. One of the solutions I have come up with is called "Delay" Discipline. Here's how it works:

If we have a family curfew of 11:00 and THIS boy...

(how could anyone ever get mad at this face, anyway?)

...comes in at 11:32, I will have this conversation with him upon his arrival home:

Me: Son, you are 32 minutes late. What happened?
Son: [any one of a vast variety of excuses]
Me: Okay, well good night.
Son: Good night?
Me: Yes, good night.

That will be the extent of the conversation that night. Seven days will go by until the next weekend and the son will ask if he can go to [fill in the blank]. This is when I will strike. This is how THIS conversation will go:

Son: Mom, can I go to [fill in the blank]?
Me: Well, Son, last Saturday you didn't come home on time. I feel like I can't trust you to abide by the family rules, so I think that maybe you should stay home tonight. For your physical and spiritual safely, I have to be able to trust that you'll do what you say you're going to do. If you prove this week that you can be trusted again, we'll talk about letting you go out next weekend.
Son: [dejectedly walks away]

This method accomplishes several things:
1. I am not trying to discipline when I am angry.
2. The child is left a bit puzzled that there were no consequences of his actions and he is left to think about it for a few days.
3. I don't have to bring it up and ruin the good mood that may be present
4. The tasks of teaching and disciplining occur and the child learns that he needs to behave in a trustworthy manner in order to receive privileges.

Here's one more example:

The family has established that if a morning chore is not done before the child leaves for school, that child will have to be Mom's servant for one hour per chore on the weekend. This child...

(and how am I supposed to get mad at her?)

...forgets to make her bed on Monday and Tuesday and forgets to feed the chickens on Thursday. That is three forgotten chores, thus equalling three hours of servitude on the weekend. Instead of nagging the child when she returns home from lunch or after school, I keep a log of the offenses. When Saturday comes, there will be a conversation like this:

Daughter: Hey, Mom, can I go [fill in the blanks]?
Mom: Well, let's see. Let me get out my log. On Monday and Tuesday you didn't make your bed and on Thursday you forgot to feed the chickens. That's three missed chores which equals three hours of you being my servant. So, I guess after that you can go.
Daughter: [storms away, but knows I am right, I'm sure of it!]

What do you think of "Delay" Discipline? What other methods do you use to teach right from wrong, but still maintain a good feeling in the home? I would love to hear what ideas you have. What works for you?

Check out...

...for other solutions to everyday problems. You'll love it!

If you liked this post and would like to join me here on a regular basis via email or other reader, please...
(You'll be helping to pay for at least one of the nine kid's college tuition.)
OR... bookmark or share this post by clicking the little beauty below... Thank you for your visit!


"Intentionally Katie" said...

This is the EXACT tactic used in my new favorite book "Have a new kid by Friday." Exactly. It's tough with a 4 year old who has the memory of a gnat, but it's working. Very well. Even for attitudes! Love it.

Lisa said...

LOVE the servant idea! One of our rules (though a hard one to enforce if I'm too tired or lazy to do the enforcing) is that when Mom or Dad tell a child to do something, they can't put it off, otherwise it will most definitely be forgotten. As soon as we so "Go, do" they must go and do. IF they I look over and they haven't gone and done, I stand over them with my best, "Ahem" look until they get the picture...

Krista said...

What if, since they look old enought to get the long-term discipline thing, you go over the rules and consequences and decide together? Obviously they have to have reasonable and just consequences to actual, realistic rules...but if they have input, they might be more proactive, and they might get the overall point better...to help them develop disciplined lives or whatever, right?...so that they learn to internalize the rules. When they don't have you looking over their shoulder (in college, or out on their own whenever that time comes), they'll (ideally) have developed some good habits.

Kristin said...

Wow, I really like Krista's addition to this already really good system. Thanks for taking the time to put this up, Jenny.

Sherry @ Lamp Unto My Feet said...

My daughter came in after she was supposed to last week and when she wanted to go out with her friends another day, I told her she couldn't but she hasn't been late this week. :D
I also will not let my children have certain privileges if they don't do their chores, too.

CJ, The Purple Diva said...

I LOVE THIS IDEA! HOW I WISH it would work in my house!
Your kids just walk away after you give them their answer...MINE, would stand there and agrue with me for about the next 30 minutes!
And my journal book, it would be FULL the first day! I am afraid I would have volumnes filled the first week!
BUT you have a GREAT idea! I do so love it.
Mmm, can I send an extra kid your way???? :-)

CJ, The Purple Diva said...

Now, I see why you haven't been around my page lately! :-)

Melinda said...

My husband works alot so that I can be home with our 3 teens. That makes me the main disciplinarian-Yuck! It seems like I am always yelling about something but lately I have been trying not to let myself get so stessed. In efforts to get my kids back into their chore routine I came up with this- I give 1 reminder at about 6pm that gives them an hour until chores are to be done. If they choose not to do them I don't nag them I just add them to my nightly list.BUT I expect their cell phones on the counter before bed and they stay there for 24 hours. If they choose to do their chore the nest day they get their phone back if not then another 24 is tacked on. We don't have a land line so this is their only way of communication with friends and family. This seems to be working so far. I like your servant idea and might offer that as an alternative. It is very hard for me but I think just being consistent and standing your ground is key.

Rhonda said...

That's great Jen. We do that sometimes too.

We've sometimes sat our teens down when they've been a repeat offender and asked for their opinion on what an appropriate discipline would be. 9 times out of 10 they give themselves harsher consequences than we would actually dole out. Crazy, huh?!

Amanda B. said...

Love this! Will have to work on this- maybe I won't "yell" so much! :)

Audra Krell said...

Great post. Very logical discipline, which is the best way. I think delayed is fine and I love that it doesn't ruin your mood, that is key.

American Homemaker said...

what a great idea :)

Amanda said...

Great idea! I really like the servant idea. We have something similar but I like your plan better.

Michelle said...

Hmmmm?? Well it's unique. And might work for some things. But my girls would love being my slave...LOL. I think I'll try it on a few things though.

I posted about some discipline problems I've been having....if you get a chance take a peek would you? Some advice would be nice.

Anonymous said...

Dang that boy is a cutie, too bad i live in another country......

katie said...

I am curious if you still do this? Did it work? sounds great. I yell way too much...thinking this could be a solution. Love your blog by the way. I stalk you sometimes. The post about your son and his bed has stayed with me. Thank you for sharing that personal moment. It is such a tender thing as a Mom to stop and really see who these children are that we are raising. Yours was a good reminder.