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Kids and discipline – does “or else!” work?

The answer is no.

Using “or else” as a punishment option definitely isn’t an effective way to get kids to behave according to your family’s standards, but I often struggle in the moment when my kids are acting out. I think what works best for my kids is to give one (I mean one!) warning, letting them know what the consequences will be if they continue to misbehave, and then if they continue, follow through!

I think what drives home the message most clearly with my kids is to have the punishment fit the crime, for lack of a better phrase. This is easier with younger kids, however; for example, if my daughter drew on the wall as a toddler, I would take her crayons away. But what about when my son is hitting his sister repeatedly or my daughter is talking back to me? I usually will try top pick something that will really impact them, ie, no TV or computer time that day – or for a few days, depending on how bad their behavior was.

Following through when it comes to disciplining your kids is equally important, as is making sure all adults who discipline your kids (spouses, grandparent, sitter) are on the same page. A case in point was earlier this summer when my daughter had a friend over and they had totally trashed the second floor and were outraged when they were told they had to pick everything up. I heard my husband say (well, actually, he may have been yelling), “If you girls don’t clean this up right now, you will never have a playdate again!” What was wrong with this scenario? 1. Ridiculous punishment. 2. The girls knew this would never happen. I hope he is reading this blog right now :-).

The bottom line is  keep your cool, establish clear rules with your kids, discipline your kids calmly, follow through and pick punishments that fit the lapse in behavior.

How do you avoid using “or else” when you discipline your kids?

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