If/Then Discipline help - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 02-22-2010, 07:47 PM - Thread Starter
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...hello. So I'm trying to come up with some consistent rules for disciplining my children so that I can stop the whole screaming/going crazy feeling we get.

I've been brainstorming and have come up with several ideas such as:

If you throw rocks in our pool, then you have to go inside.
If you deliberately make a mess (color/paint/draw on walls/furniture) then you'll need to pick a job from the job jar to help out while I clean up that mess.

We have moved to a new house. One of the rules is NO FOOD ON CARPET. The carpet is upstairs and on the stairs, so really, seriously, we don't need food that far from the kitchen!

We've been here a week and I'm already seeing the kids try to test the rules. I need a discipline if/then action for this.

I want it to be something that relates to the whole concept of not going upstairs without food. The kids are 4 and 5. ANy ideas??

Welcome to the Real World she said to me, condescendingly, take a seat. Take your life; plot it out in black and white.
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#2 of 7 Old 02-22-2010, 08:58 PM
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Have you tried only allowing eating in one place, like the table. If my dd brought food into a place she knows food isn't suppossed to go I would take it from her and tell her she could have it when she came to sit at the table to eat it. I find that sitting with my dd and eating with her, or just sitting as she eats helps dd to stay in one place and eat rather than wondering around. I like the examples you list, if they balk at the thought of you following through you might also consider using a when/then statement to let them look forward to the fun thing they can do just as soon as they are done. This requires being a bit of a salesperson when the activity is just something like playing toys, but I find these types of statements very motivating for my dd.
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#3 of 7 Old 02-22-2010, 09:09 PM
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I sometimes find myself coming up with if/then consequences, but I try not to. I think most of the time it actually works better just to tell the kids "You can't do X" without making threats about what will happen if they do it. If you really feel it's important to have a consequence, I'd suggest avoiding ones that might be hard to enforce and have the potential to turn the whole incident into a huge power struggle - like the one about having to pick a job from the job jar and do it. What if the kid refuses to pick a job, or refuses to do the job, or does the job very, very poorly? Are you going to have to come up with another if/then for not doing the job jar job? Having to go inside seems like the kind of consequence that's much easier to actually enforce, because you can make it happen by yourself - you can just grab the kid and carry him in if you need to. For food on the carpet, something like "If you take food onto the carpet, I'll take that food away and you won't get any more until the next meal" would also be one you could make happen all by yourself. (But it could also backfire, if your kid is the type who falls apart if he's too hungry.)
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#4 of 7 Old 02-22-2010, 10:24 PM
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It sounds to me like you're already on the right track! First, make sure you are 100% clear on the expectations. You don't want your kids to have any doubt about what the rules are. I'm a big fan of the natural/logical consequence route.... if you are eating on the carpet, then your food gets taken away until you can eat at the table. If you throw rocks into the pool, you need to come inside. If you create more work for mom by writing on the walls, not only will you need to help clean up THAT mess, there will be another job for you to do as well. It's key to not yell or get too worked up. Just stay calm and level-headed and be consistent! Hugs, we've all been there (or still are there, lol).

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#5 of 7 Old 02-24-2010, 02:38 AM
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i agree with daffodil....
if you tell them "IF you do xyz....." you are saying, "sure! you CAN do xyz, but you will then have to abc."
rather, just make it a final statement "There is absolutely NO food on the carpet."
Maybe explain a bit...."we want our carpet to stay clean, we dont want ucky looking stains, moldy spots, ants!"

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#6 of 7 Old 02-24-2010, 11:20 PM
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I agree that you don't need to announce to the children what the consequences might be for a specific action - to me it seems too much like a price tag, and the kids might decide that it's worth the cost. There's nothing wrong with making rules that make sense - like not eating on the carpet. If you are consistent about taking away food on the carpet, they will soon figure out that this rule is non-negotiable.

I DO like that you are thinking in advance what you will do if X happens. It is a lot easier to be consistent - and to not get too flustered - if you know how you might handle something.

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#7 of 7 Old 02-26-2010, 05:20 PM
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Two things:

- The logic of an "if... then" rule works better with positives. And I don't use the word "if" when I can help it. I say "When... then." As in, "When you've cleaned up your mess, then you can outside to play." The word "if" implies a choice not to cooperate, and it implies a threat or a bribe. Saying "When... then" teaches children about process and patience. When we finish with things we don't especially enjoy doing, then we can more onto more fun things. Or, better yet -- When we work hard at something, then we can be proud of our work.

- If you want to make a rule about food, state it in the positive. "You may have food in the kitchen." Then when I notice the rule being broken, I simply remind them "Food stays in the kitchen."
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