Giving Discipline to children well must be one of the hardest aspects of parenting. 

i took to Facebook to ask some of my friends who are parents to share some of their ideas/process/stories/thinking:

i imagine that discipline must be one of the hardest things to get right for a lot of parents. How do you discipline your kids [maybe add in age of kids cos that changes things] in ways that you have found effective? Can we share some ideas that may be helpful to other parents or to parents whose children are younger than yours to keep in mind.

What have you found that works well?

Here are some of their responses [and please add yours in the comments]:

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Ronél Betts: My child has a personality that likes rules and order, so in some ways it’s very easy. We talk to her as if she is a “real person” (not baby talk). Making a game or song out of routine activities helps her a lot. She likes to know a transition is coming up: ” after this song, we will do X” 

Tantrums are mostly ignored once we confirmed it’s not hunger or tiredness. Routine is a life saver and we play together a lot! Oh, she turns two in September

Kat Gensicke: Ronél Betts, this is exactly what my parents did a lot! I feel so lost when I don’t have a plan or a routine (I am 22) and am so thankful my parents raised me like that!

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Ruth Irene Barnabas: My older 3 who are 5 – 9 years old respond well to taking privileges away. I’ve found that the younger you establish stuff the more it stays with them and quite honestly my 7+9 year old don’t need as much discipline compared to guidance and with a very open relationship they are comfortable enough to come to us about things they are unsure of. There are natural consequences to all behavior and we lean into those rather than punishment. It has helped me to plot and figure out their personalities and personality functions (Myers Briggs) to try and understand them at a greater depth to provide an environment that helps them thrive. For instance my children who are perceivers struggle with routine way more than my children who use the judgment function of their personality.

My challenge is my autistic child and navigating what is triggered by lack of regulation and what needs discipline. My 2 year old is ungovernable honestly, even having been through 5 2 year old stages it still a mystery everyday as to what’s going on there. We just embrace everyday, whatever it brings.

Ellen Winchester: Ruth Irene Barnabas I have four children, mostly grown, two are autistic. Just wanted to share a couple of things that helped. My son loves sounds, he was never able to learn behavior equals consequences so I used sounds and words to help him when he’d lose control. When he was younger it was from the “Lion King”, to say Mufasa over and over like the hyenas do in the movie. This stopped an outburst/tantrum every time. When he gets stuck on a topic I will say sometime totally of the wall to short circuit his thoughts. He liked a show about a dog called “Wishbone” so I might say, did you know Wishbone has two tails. I will also interrupt him with fun facts about things he likes.

My autistic daughter I used movement when she was having problems regulating her emotions. We would play a wiggle game to get them out, starting with our feet, and moving the wiggle and the difficult emotion up our bodies until we had in our hands and then toss it away. As she got older it became random dancing. If she was getting tense or anxious, I would yell, random dance” and then dancing like crazy person as that is the only way I know to dance 😊. These are basically coping techniques that helped me as much as them to stay calm. Don’t know if they are helpful, but hoping it gives some ideas for whatever you facing with your autistic.

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Lisa Louise: My kids are 8,5 and 5 months old. We use gentle parenting, which can be challenging but we try to treat them with respect even when disciplining. Lately I’ve been more stressed than usual so it’s been much harder for me so I’ve resorted to shouting and sometimes things like talking iPad or tv. But that’s not ideal.

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Barry Austwick: this very question has been one of my biggest challenges… i so want to get it right, but it’s so difficult. I’ve got 3 kids (age: 5; 3; 2) we’ve tried it all – i still don’t know the answer. Lastest thing which is working for me… in the time when discipline is needed, remove them from the situation and the other kids, go across to their island, and do ur very best to understand there point, woo them and allow them to feel heard then with a firm tone explain why they needed to NEVER EVER do that again. something to that effect is working well currently – who knows if it will tomorrow 😉

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Emma Cocklin: I use this a lot, both at school and at home with my own kids… Consistent expectations and limits also helps a lot

Discipline infographic

Emma Cocklin: My kids are 6 and 3 and school kids range in age from 14 months to 7

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Caren Falconer We have 4 Kids. All teens now. Here are some of the things we learnt on this journey. 3 of our kids are ADHD and this undiagnosed truth was so difficult in the early years because kids with ADHD need a different approach to parenting and especially discipline. It was so tough. But with the right diagnosis and therefore right direction we embarked on the journey of trial and error. I think the greatest lesson we learnt was that one size does not fit all family’s and children within families. Grace , understand and forgiveness of both child and parent has saved all through our messy mistakes. So much more to say but I’ll stop now .

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Innocentia Kgobane: My son is 11.

Im not coping 😂

He is his own master. I find that we happen upon values and discipline within the very things that molded me. An unlikely source, television. Material with messages that instill value and teach him wrong from right along with me, thus reaffirming. Rebellious as he is, he is a really precarious but good child. Independent. He joined a reading club and soccer club of his own volition and is first to condemn bad behavior from both his peers and adults alike. I absolutely love who this young man is and is becoming.

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Gretchen Zuidema Driesenga: We use Love & Logic. It’s a whole philosophy. Actually, our entire school utilizes this way of discipline/behavior management. Great free articles on the website that helps give some understanding.

Megan Ribbens: I SO wish our school would train their teachers in their approach! Gretchen, do you know of anyone in SA who trains schools in the L&L approach?

Megan Ribbens: This will bring you to the section specific to parents on their site:

Megan Ribbens: They have books, dvd’s and also very helpful free printables you can download from their site. Each section with a heart (here has different PDF’s you can download. In the tab “articles for parents of all ages” the “guiding children to solve their own problems” and “turn your words into gold” are great places to start.

Gretchen Zuidema Driesenga: Megan- I’m in Rwanda currently and we do “in house” training – basically every new staff member has to read the book and be in a PLC (professional learning community) for their first semester on staff to work through the book together. We would benefit for further training as well!

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Megan Ribbens: It can be so hard! We used to be dorm parents for 11 teenagers and we have kids ages 17, 13, and 10 – each with very different personalities. Consistency is key. Indulging our kids does no one any favours – but it’s so easy to fall into. After a bit of crisis with one of our children last year, we were reminded of the importance of staying connected and repairing. We read Love and Logic Institute, Inc. books when we were first starting out and their philosophy saved our sanity many times over…and actually made discipline seem fun at times!

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Janet Chadwick: I communicate a lot about the reasoning. My kids are 6 and 10. I don’t threaten stuff dramatically, unless as a way of lightening the mood, and we used to collaborate on the ‘consequences’ once they got a bit older, so I’d say what they did and why I am discouraging the Behaviour, then I would ask them what they think is a fitting consequence to help them remember the lesson, and usually they’d be a lot harsher, so I’d get to say “I think that’s a little extreme, maybe not such a harsh consequence”.

Janet Chadwick: My favourite was when I was out on time out by josh when he was 2.. he came to me and told me what I did (I promised to play and basically stalled twice as I tried to finish an email) then he negotiated the consequence (time out for three minutes) and then he fetched me, he reiterated why I was on time out and that he loves me, we hugged and then we played. I loved that he had the confidence to call me out with love.

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Gayle Evers: Pay attention to them, to what they’re doing, to what they’re saying. Get down on their level, physically, to talk to them eye-to-eye. Speak to them in the calm manner you want them to speak and to behave. Be firm. Time out = 1 min per year of age. Be consistent. Be respectful and insist on respect for all other people, things and places. Learn their love languages (how they give and receive love) and respond accordingly. Know that whatever you don’t tell them about what is going on in your household, they are making up a “logical” story to fill in the gaps, and it often involves imagining some shortcoming on their part, so be open and honest. Include them.

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Graeme Codrington: It depends entirely on the child’s personality. Three children = three different discipline styles.

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Ellen Winchester: So many wonderful techniques! My four children are grown. There were many challenges in their bringing up as two are autistic and two are strong-willed. The best advice I can give is for both parents to be on the same page. Decide together, talk out the details. My husband would take any method to an extreme I could not agree to. Like we agreed to physical exercise when they had to much energy and I would find my 5 yr old at 10pm assigned 100 jumping jacks because she wouldn’t stay in bed. Some may think that’s okay I did not. To say the least this caused problems with parenting and our marriage. Also, trust yourselves. Your children are yours no one else’s. Listen to advise, read books and then do what feels right for you. I used a lot of creative methods with my kids. Most friends and family thought I was nuts, but I listened to my heart and my children and went with it regardless.

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Thank you to everyone who shared their thoughts. Would love to hear different things you have tried that have worked and maybe even some lessons you learned about what not to do. Please feel free to share them in the comments below.

[To dive into the Series on 40 Tips for Parents that is currently being created, click here]