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Rachel - posted on 06/11/2010
Consistency is key, regardless of your discipline style. Here's what we do:
1) get the child's attention (Firmly say, "Stop" for example and make eye contact)
2) identify the offending behavior (you are screaming/throwing a tantrum, pitching a fit, etc.)
3) remind that offending behavior is not tolerated (You are NOT allowed to scream/throw tantrum/pitch a fit/etc.)
4) explain choices (you can either stop screaming or go to your room until you can calm down/get a spanking/whatever other discipline you feel appropriate - when we are home, I prefer quiet time in our child's room until he calms down and is ready to behave with the rest of the family - sometimes that takes just a minute or two, other times much longer, but our child knows that he has control over when he comes out - all he has to do is calm down and act appropriately)
5) Ask the question of what the child wants to do: So, do you want to go to your room (or whatever the discipline is) or are you going to stop screaming? (This gives the child a choice and teaches that they get to chose the consequences to their actions rather than Mommy being the bad guy - if she chooses to keep screaming, then follow up with, "Well, honey, you chose to keep screaming, so you have to spend time in your room until you can calm down.")
6) Follow up. If she keeps screaming, immediately follow through with the promised discipline. If she stops screaming, thank her for stopping, tell her you are proud of her for making that decision, give her a big hug and move on with your day.
7) If you had to employ the discipline, take the time to talk with her afterward, provide any affection that she indicates she wants (our son wants to be held after a "training" session like this), explain again that she isn't allowed to scream or throw tantrums and that if she wants to express herself (frustration, a desire, whatever the issue was about), then explain how you want her to express what she is feeling (ex: when you are frustrated, I want you to use your words so I can understand what you need). It is important to follow up discipline with reassurance of love and affection because this will increase the bond and trust with your child.
We started this routine when our son started pitching fits, probably around 18 months. At first it was difficult and we had to be really careful about consistency. But, now that he is three, most of the time all we have to do is ask him, "Do you want to go to your room?" and he'll stop, think about it (knowing we will do it!) and then say, "no" and stop the offense (whining, pitching a fit, not coming when called, etc). It has been extremely rewarding!
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