On the thread about punishment I was reminded of something that comforts me as a parent. While I do have some ideals that I have set for myself as a disciplinarian, I also realize that I have kept some things in my "GD toolbox" because I always want to feel like there are options I can "resort to" if more palatable approaches don't work.
I realize that these will be different for different people. Please share what you keep in the bottom of your toolbox and why. Also, lets also remember that what's in the bottom of one person's box may be the "go to" for another family and that's OK.
For me the things I have reserved as efforts that I can bring out if other approached don't work or if I just don't have the energy for those things are rewards and punishments.
I am so comforted by the fact that we haven't over used the whole reward thing because there have been times in my life as a parent that I have ever so appreciated being able to rely on that method of getting something done.
We also have done a few punishments and I have kept a few (like grounding) on reserve in case I feel they will work at some point when other things fail.
Playful parenting...is SO not my thing. But, when I NEED to get something done, I will fall back on that too. It's nice that I don't do it often because it works like 90% of the time with my toddler because it's such a treat.
I also don't love the whole "choices" game for toddlers. But, yes, it works and we use it from time to time.
My older DC attends public school. She doesn't have any behavior issues but I have often thought that I would employ teacher's help if she ever got to a situation where she was missing work or whatever. On some level, I think my DC knows that I am letting go of some of the parent involvement in student responsibility and am fine with the consequence of her getting into trouble with her teacher. Because of that (in part) I think she is really conscientious of her teachers.
I feel like there are so many good airplane analogies for parenting (like the one about the oxygen masks). The GD toolbox analogy for me is about the seat-back. I never put my seat-back down because it gives me so much psychological comfort knowing that I could get more comfortable if I wanted to. Having these things stored away in case of a GD emergency also gives me a lot of psychological comfort. And, keeping them stored mentally helps in the other way of helping me not fall back on them too often.
I have also resorted to mild carrot-and-stick tactics for behavior that simply won't be resolved in a reasonable timeframe (like, 3 years is beyond a reasonable timeframe!).
Like dd1, who is 8.5. She has always been short on empathy as motivation, so using "what-if-that-happened-to-you" scenarios *never* showed any outward success in being kinder ("civil"is the expectation) to her sister. So, I told her about how some kids earn star stickers for motivation, and it worked well with her, though it was a disaster for dd2 (possibly why it worked so well--aack!) And for those infractions when the thought of getting sticker wasn't motivation enough, there was the stick part. All very mild compared to how others have used this, but for me it was a last resort.
I also sometimes have to limit choices to 2 (usually I let them choose from whatever choices are out there), or even simply laid down what was going to happen (sometimes quite loudly, but I don't see that as so much the bottom of the GD toolbox as failure on my part to Keep It Together.)
Taking Away Privileges is also something I don't do often, but like the carrot-and-stick, can be effective when I am at a loss and the behavior needs correcting.
I will never claim to be a whiz at gentle discipline. I don't necessarily use the best tactics when attempting to resolve things, so I can't say these are "Last Resort" at all. They are just what I use when I am at a loss--not when GD somehow fails.
Give me a few minutes while I caffeinate.