Remember "This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you"? It turns out, that is totally true. At least if this last weekend was any indication, when my pre-schooler was "grounded." The punishment seemed appropriate at the time my husband and I decided on it, which was on the way home from a friend's house after she had thrown a rock at the host. This, combined with some not-so-nice treatment of her fellow classmates over the past week, made us realize that kid needed a serious reminder that there are consequences for inappropriate behavior.
So we screwed ourselves. You see, when my daughter couldn't go to a get-together on Sunday, it meant my husband couldn't go either. That pool party was fun for my 2-year-old and me, but we missed the rest of the family and so did the friends who invited us over. Another invitation came that we would have loved to have accepted. But nope, my girl is grounded, so we all are.
Clearly, we're doing it wrong. Here's what we should have done.
1) Wait to dole out punishment when you're not angry.
Next time I'll know to say, "You will be punished. Your father and I will discuss the consequences." I know it's satisfying to respond to a sassy kid by showing her who's boss, but it's not a good idea to make declarations when you're not thinking clearly.
2) Reward instead of punish.
I'm working on this. It has been true, in our household at least, that when we set up a reward system, it is much more effective in getting our children to behave in the way we would like than when we punish after the fact. Of course, in a busy home, it's easy to forget the system. Which is why we should always consider #3.
3) Only take away privileges specific to your child.
If you get as excited about going to Pinkberry after pick-up as your child does, this is not a good deterrent. Instead, take away a favorite toy or television show for a period of time. You're not going to miss it, but he will.
How do you effectively discipline your child without hurting yourself?
Image via Maggie Storm