Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Creative Discipline for Pre-Tweens

At ages 7 and 9, my kids are officially too old for Time Out. Not that it ever worked wonders, but it is kind of a joke at this point. Spankings never worked, they're not allowed to watch TV or play video games during the week... so what's a mom to do?  They are in that weird place between little kids and big kids and I promise you, they still need discipline.

Our 2013 Christmas card picture
And don't get me started on natural consequences, we're all about natural consequences over here... but I'm trying hard to distinguish between punishment and consequences in my language to them. The natural consequence of painting in your nice clothes when I said not to is getting paint on your shirt. The natural consequence of climbing a tree when I said to get down is getting hurt when you fall. The natural consequence of not doing what I said the first time is running out of time to do what you want. The problem is, my kids don't care if there's paint on their shirt, they con't care if they get hurt (well, at least Chris doesn't) and they have fun while they ignore me. So we need something more.

One of the biggest problems I have with my ADD 9-year old is his inability, or unwillingness, to stop when I say stop. He gets fixated on his goal and blocks out the world. While his single-mindedness may be a function of his ADD, I refuse to allow it to be an excuse for ignoring anyone yelling STOP.

My 7-year old is more of a people pleaser but is still prone to unwarranted melt-downs over the slightest disappointment.

The other morning Christopher was letting the cat out the window and I said stop. Then I said it louder. Then I said it five or six times. When he had finished letting the cat out the window he turned to me and said, "Sorry." Without yelling (WIN!), I replied, "Thanks for your apology, now go unload the dishwasher. And next time stop when I say stop."

He was appalled! I frequently assign chores around the house but he's never had to unload the dishwasher as a punishment. He pushed back a bit but I remained calm and he finished his chore before we had to leave for school. On the way there he scolded me (yes, and we're working on respectfully speaking to adults) for making him not have enough time to finish his breakfast. I matter-of-factly (WIN) reminded him that he can eat breakfast in school and that how he spends his mornings is up to him. If he follows the rules, his time belongs to him but if he breaks the rules, his time belongs to me.

The other 2013 Christmas card picture
Since that day I've handed out all kinds of chores-as-punishment. The most frequent one is washing door frames, walls and baseboards. I taught them how to use a magic eraser and we also use unscented, aloe free, store brand baby wipes (thanks for THAT idea Ella!).

I eventually made some charts with lists of chores. I'll post my chore charts, and reasoning behind our system, later this week.

So far, this new plan is working well. I am repeating myself less and less. The kids are doing what I ask (more often than they used to) without complaining, arguing or melting down. I am optimistic that this will continue to work for as long as I need.

And, you should see my baseboards!


  1. Haha, I remember having to do chores as punishment. Brilliant, I tell you! :) House cleaned and discipline given. The new header is fun too. Glad you are back!

    1. Thanks Lindsey! I'm enjoying being back. And I'm glad you like the header! It was fun to make :-)

  2. I love this! I think that will be my new mantra...
    How you spend your time is up to you. If you follow the rules, your time belongs to you. If you don't follow the rules, your time belongs to me.


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