It is Saturday morning. You are up and have begun cleaning the house, which is a chore that must be done weekly. Finally at about 11:00 am, your child groggily wakes up and stumbles into the living room, turns on the television and pours himself a bowl of cereal. After an hour you realize your child is still sitting in front of the television and his empty bowl is now another mess to be cleaned up.
As you continue to work around the house, you politely ask your child to put away his bowl and that you would like him to clean his room. In your mind you are thinking "now". But in the child's mind, he is thinking "when I get to it". Another thirty minutes passes and your child is still sitting there. You say again, "I would like for you to pick up your bowl and clean your room, please". Your child acknowledges you by saying "ok". This repeats itself several times throughout the morning. Each time your tone becomes louder and more adamant, until you are frustrated and to the point of anger.
You begin asking yourself, "why won't he listen to me"? "What am I going to have to do to get him to do what I've asked"? Finally, after about the sixth time telling him to do the same thing over and over, you move towards the remote control and shut off the tv, telling him in a strong tone to do what you've said "NOW"! Both you and he are upset. He stomps upstairs and slams the door.
Does this scenario seem like something you've experienced? All this ranting, raving, threatening, pleading and begging can be exhausting for both you and the child. I ran across a discipline method that teaches a child to respond without all the frustration. It's called "Reality Discipline".
Reality Discipline teaches your child to think for themselves and learn to become more responsible through guidance and action-oriented techniques. Sometimes it is ok for your child to suffer the consequences of his/her actions in an attempt to teach him/her a lesson. Here's a cute story:
"My little sister, Christy, could sleep through a tornado (or a hurricane or tsunami) and my mother was tired of waking her up every morning and saying, "You'd better hurry, or you're going to miss the bus." Finally, Mom thought, I'm not waking her up anymore. She can be late. Just as she suspected, Christy did miss the bus and was forced to walk the mile to school. Much to my mother's delight, she was never late again. She didn't have to beg, plead, give him ultimatums or nag Christy one more time. Instead, she let reality do the discipline."
Sometimes the reality of consequences can be a more effective discipline than anything else!
Here's another story:
"A mother struggled each day when picking her child up from the playground at school. She would arrive and her son would run away from her, all while other parents and teachers were looking on. One day she asked another parent to watch her son for a few minutes while she drove away. She left and drove down the road and bought herself an ice cream cone then drove back to pick up her son. When he discovered she had not bought him a cone too, she said "see what you could have had, but you ran away." He never ran away again."
In both of these scenarios there was no ranting, raving, threatening, begging, or pleading. Just cool, collected action with some quick, clever thinking to make your point loud and clear. Here are some basic principles of reality discipline:
The Focus Should Not be on Creating a Happy Child
The goal of parenting is not to create happy kids; rather, it's to create responsible kids. This means your child will probably be pretty unhappy that he didn't get an ice cream cone; he may even throw a fit, and rant and rave — but he will become more responsible and respectful. Don't back down, but do stay cool as a cucumber. Remind yourself that it's a battle of the wits and the wills, and you will win.
Understand Your Child's Reality
You need to know what's important to your child — what really moves him in his reality. Your child may value money, sports, a daily cookie break, staying up late or spending time with friends. Parents who know how to use Reality Discipline make creative connections between bad behavior and discipline through action rather than through warnings, nagging or threats.
Reality Discipline Should be Grounded in Love
"Show me a mean teacher, and I'll show you a good one." If you find that you are a permissive parent who is afraid of "pulling the rug out from under your child", remember that Reality Discipline is not unkind. Instead, when it's motivated by love to help your child mature into a responsible adult, it's a very good gift.
(Information courtesy of Focus on the Family, Dr. Kevin Leman)