Okay. The Holidays are here. Kids are hyped up and they expect to receive goodies. Discipline for the near future will be more challenging than usual. Let’s learn 4 tricks you can use to keep control:
- The Hansel & Gretel trick. Leave a trail of enticing bread crumbs, guiding a kid in your chosen direction:
Example: You’re in the mall and Sally sees a doll she wants. She insists on getting the doll. Here’s how this trick works:
You- “Do you really like that doll?”
Sally- “Yes. Her hair is the same as mine and she’s cuddly.”
You- “Do you think she’d like a doll house to live in when you’re not holding her?”
You- “Okay. Here’s how you can get the doll and her doll house. When you go back to school next week, you have to get dressed in the morning without arguing about the clothes I pick out. If you can do that for a week, you get the doll. If you do that another week, you get the doll house.”
Using this trick: Present a series of enticing rewards to lead your kid to good behavior.
- The Distraction trick. Offer alternative, but acceptable (to you) actions:
Example: Your son, Dante, wants you to buy him an expensive Star Wars outfit. Here how to use Distraction:
Dante- “I want that Star Wars outfit.”
You- “Why do you want it?”
Dante- “My friend has one.”
You- “I know some things you’d like better. How about you go fishing with Dad this weekend? If we save the money from the Star Wars outfit, we can get bait for fishing. Or, if you prefer, you and I will see that Disney movie you wanted to see.”
Using this trick: Bury your kid’s unacceptable demand with attractive alternatives.
- The Sibling Rivalry trick. Pit kids’ good behaviors against each other:
Example: While visiting with your family, your kids Billy and Donna are teasing each other to tears. First one, then the other runs to you complaining, “He said….she said.”
You- “I’m hanging this chart on the wall. Every time one of you teases the other I will stick a black star in a box. Every star you get means you go to bed 15 minutes earlier tonight. Either of you who gets no black stars can stay up late tonight, have ice cream and watch a movie.”
Using this trick: Having siblings strive for a common goal is a powerful, but potentially risky technique, since it can anger or depress the “loser.” To avoid that, it’s best to find a way to reward both kids for their efforts, though not equally.
- The Billiard trick. Deflect misbehavior with a proposed punishment while redirecting it with a reward:
Example: Kristina just turned 16. Last week, some beer was found hidden in her bedroom. You’ll be visiting family for the Holidays and you know alcohol will be served to the adults.
You- “Remember that beer we found in your room? You know we can’t let you drive if we think you’re sneaking alcohol.
“If we have reason to think you’re using alcohol, we’ll hold off on Drivers Ed for at least a year. Otherwise, after the Holidays, we’ll sign you up for Drivers Ed.”
Using this trick: The Billiard trick deflects bad behavior with a punishment and guides kids toward better behavior with seductive rewards.
You may have noticed these tricks rely as little as possible on punishment as a means of discipline. That’s because punishment risks creating anger or depression, both of which reduce kids’ compliance. Carefully chosen rewards encourage better behavior, build self-esteem and ensure Happy Holidays for the whole family.