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Father Threatening His Son by David Castillo Dominici via



I hate hearing broken records... so do kids. I tune it out... kids are no different.

Why threaten children with something you don't plan on doing? 

Because it's easy, and you think it will work.

It won't...
so don't bother; kids catch on... 

Threats, without follow through, don't work--period.

If kids can put up with your irritating, broken record, they become successful at continuing to get away with what they're doing (or about to do).

Something I have done with my children for years has been to set rules and expectations, and if they don't follow them, I give them consequences.

  • Throw something as a toddler? I take it away and teach him/her how to play with it.
  • Touch something dangerous? A firm 'no' is in order. Touch it again and a small swat on the hand, paired with 'no! hot!' (or boo-boo!) is usually sufficient. 
  • Scream? I ignore you until you quiet down and tell me what's wrong calmly point to or try to say what you need. (Obviously this is not in emergency situations, but in tantrum times.)
  • Don't do what you are told? The consequence just got worse.
  • In a store, at a picnic, birthday party, fair or sporting event and cannot behave? We leave.
  • Break a big house rule? Lose something you love: phone, nook, DS, Wii (any privilege which will hurt).
The older you get, the bigger the consequence.

Along with some of these things, I will add writing assignments, often for the smaller kids who are elementary school level, because it seems to work best for their ability to think about what they did. It's likely that I will also use an extra chore as part of the punishment, or ground them for a day or two (depending on the offense) little ones cannot understand long term punishments as well. 

To My Kids:
"I am responsible for feeding and loving you, providing you with an education and shelter, listening to you and providing emotional support: the rest, is extra."

I talk a lot on my blog and column about balance. So remember that talking to your children about the bad behavior, expectations and issues that revolve around the actions they did, must be a part of the discipline, or else the punishment will be ineffective.

Another note on discipline, is that it really takes discipline and sacrifice for the parent. If you aren't ready to break your chat, hang up the phone, leave the party, say 'no', stay home today, or stop what you're doing right-this-minute, don't ever think you will get your kids to behave with a warning.

Threats are just our lazy way of trying to get the kids to behave the way we want them to without having to give up what we're doing at the moment.

Next time, instead of making a threat, try to identify what it is your child needs, give it to them, see if the behavior changes. If so, you are on to something and are learning more about your child's needs. 

Often, when a child misbehaves, it's usually because they are bored and want parent interaction. 

Spend time with them, involve them, feed them...before, during, or after something you want to get done... and watch them become a different kid.

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