Coming to terms with an Out of Control Child?  Just wanting to refresh  and re-establish the family rules? Hopefully, this will be an excellent start.

I don't reiterate enough that these pages are what worked for me, and might not be what work for you. With that being said, I can advise each and every parent I come in contact with to read, read, research, research. Ask, ask, ask. Find a parent that has well behaved children and invite her for coffee to strain her brain. Roam through the local library, the local bookstore. Nothing, nothing is more expensive than giving up on your child.

After you have made the huge decision to regain control and discipline in your home, (a large decision, more on that here) you have to have a plan. The plan needs to be formulated and firmed up before the actual changes start. Gather strength, courage, determination, patience, understanding, support, and knowledge. Then charge on.

1. Buy a blank book. Paper works too, as long as they can be kept together and found when needed. Write everything down for daily, hourly reference. Dates, instructions, thoughts, progress. Mine would have been titled "A New Life" and started with reminders that I need  continual strength, courage, understanding, knowledge, support. The next line would say "STICK TO IT" (no matter what)

2. List the areas that need repair. This could be fairly long once you think about for a week or so.  Bath time, bedtime, listening, obeying, swearing, dinner habits, stealing....?

3. Start a new list of rules. Be accurate. Write down ideas, change and adjust them to fit your needs. Take your time. Weeks, if need be.

If bedtime is going to be 9 pm, and you write that down, consider all the possibilities. Is bedtime still 9 on the weekends, when you are visiting Grandma, when Dad picks them up for the weekend? Be accurate. Bedtime can be 9 on 'school nights' and ten on weekends, open or negotiable during visits to Grandma's.

Does your child say no? Out of rebellion? New rule: No saying "No" to adults/parents. During the explanation of this new rule to the child, do let them know that if they are asked if they want an hot dog, they may still answer "No" and the rule is meant for 'direct orders.'

Bath time a problem?  Like bedtime, make a time for the bath, between 7 and 8, perhaps, with the notation that bedtime includes a story, the reward for bath and bed preparation. Read Bedtime and apply it to other problem situations.

Public or any screaming a problem? New rule" No screaming. What about when they are playing outside with their friends? Is Dad doing night shift and sleeps during the day? Be specific. "No screaming in the house." or "Quiet voices used in the house except for outdoors and indoors play time when Daddy's awake."

"No means No" - how many parents tire of endless repeat nagging? New rule: No means No. Period. Read about the "No-means-no-after-one-chance-to-change-my-mind" for older children here.

I told my four year old grand daughter "No more" when she was turning loud sommersaults and her great grandmother was sleeping. You could just see her thought processes as she turned another, but dead quietly. Her father rationalized she was doing it quietly, all I could think was that I said said "No sommersaults" and my directive was brazenly shunned. No means no. End of subject. (And if you don't mean it, don't say it!)

Be SURE about your rules.

4. Establish the punishments. Be careful here as well. A solid and accurate plan has triple the effect than one proven to be unworkable, changed and re-arranged again and again.

Perhaps a division of "little offenses" and "large offenses" would be adventageous in that the responding punishment would be a little time out or a larger priviledge removed. Time and time again, a parent who says "You are off television until Friday" and renegs on Wednesday night has lost the battle before she knew it.

5. Post the rules and the punishments. The frig works nicely here. If you are dealing with little ones, make your list a group of pictures, a bed, bath, the word "NO" or anything that works to remind them. Read up on punishment methods like A Wonderful Discipline Procedure.  

6. Explain the rules.  This might be a family pow-wow, regardless of how some older children might groan and moan. You might have to use your sternest mommy voice to get them to attend  If you have real rebels, make them read the rules out loud to you after you have discussed them and read them out loud yourself..If your rebels won't even sit still or attend the pow-wow (and you can't make them), check out the book titled "Toughlove" and I wish you all the luck in the world.

7. Follow up. Daily, hourly. For as long as it takes.

It's been fairly easy so far, no conflict, just a great deal of thought and writing, learning, re-arranging and organization. Now comes the really tough part.

In a nutshell, if your child is breaking a rule, stop them, on the spot. No hesitation, no doubt, no procrastination. This is part of the bargain for turning around the lives of your entire family. You deal with the problem correctly and immediately. When you find yourself backsliding, put a note somewhere to remind you that backsliding and ignoring the infraction is what got you where you are today.

There is a serious collection of suggestions having to do with a few particular problems amongst these pages, which may or may not deal with the situation you have at hand. Outwitting your children is the best tactic to any discipline, being prepared for their bad behaviour puts you one step ahead of the game at all times. Having a plan is half the battle.

At your leisure (hah!) take a good look as to what has created the development of a particular behaviour, and attack it from there. Sometimes we do have the luxury of being able to look at and more importantly, discover the 'why'' of something. More often, we never know the 'why' and simply have to deal with the 'what.' If your child is demanding attention with her antics, you can safely assume she feels she does not get enough attention. You have a two fold battle ahead of you: giving her enough quality attention, and discouraging negative behaviour in order to get ANY attention opposed to none. You have a bit of 'why' a long with your 'what' this time, but that might not hold true. Other occassions, the child might not even understand why they did something, so all you can deal with is teaching him the responsibilities and repercussions of his actions. Breaking a neighbor's window on purpose obviously had a great deal of anger attached to it, but you (nor the child) might never know exactly what that anger was.  All we can do is make the child responsible for the breakage, financially and with a punishment.

When you do find a 'why' and have the understanding of it, congradulations! Deal with it from the two fronts, add into the child's life whatever is needed and teach them how to deal with the occasions when what ever they feel they need or want is not available to them.

Things to keep in mind:

Avoid explanations. If they broke a rule, they knew it. If they truly forgot, make it short.

Remember Compliments vs Corrections in that for every correction or discipline, make sure there is a praise in the near by future.

Do NOT change your mind. Read about Because I Said So and stick to your guns. Keep a tight hold on your Lines of Acceptability.

Take your time with your rules, punishments and responses. To change any of them after they are established can be a major flaw. If a rule or punishment HAS be changed, change it in a family pow-wow with the rest of the family's input. "Mom thinks this rule should be changed, what does everyone else think?"

Read more about rules for the parent at Discipline Rules

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