"Quirky Discipline Rules That Work" article on CNN.com - Wow - Mothering Forums
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Gentle Discipline > "Quirky Discipline Rules That Work" article on CNN.com - Wow
scoobysgirl03's Avatar scoobysgirl03 05:29 PM 06-21-2007
I found this article on CNN.com. I am amazed at some of the suggestions, but it's the author's tone that bother's me the most. Does she even like her kids? It made me sad.

link to article: http://www.cnn.com/2007/HEALTH/paren...ine/index.html

Article Excerpt:

By Barbara Rowley
Parenting.com

I've made a lot of bad rules in the decade I've been a mom, from irrational threats ("No graham crackers in the house ever again if you eat them in the living room even one more time") to forbidding human nature ("You may not fight with your sister"). But occasionally I've come up with rules that work better than I'd ever contemplated. These made-up rules have an internal logic that defies easy categorization, but their clarity and enforceability make them work. Several of them are not, technically, rules at all, but declarations of policy or fact. And they're all easy to remember. A few personal favorites, plus those of other moms:

You can't be in the room when I'm working unless you work, too

Goal: Get your child to help, or stop bugging you, while you do chores

It might seem odd, but I don't mind doing laundry, cleaning floors, or really any kind of housework. But I do mind my kids, oblivious to the fact that my arms are full of their underwear, asking me to find their missing doll shoe or do a puzzle with them. Until recently, this was a source of great frustration, especially when our household grew to five kids when my husband, Taylor, and I became temporary foster parents for two months. I tried to explain to my expanded brood that if they helped me fold laundry, we could do something together sooner. But they knew I'd be available anyway if I finished folding myself, so the argument wasn't compelling. And then one day, as my oldest foster daughter sat and watched me work, asking me favors and waiting for me to be done, I came up with a rule that takes into account two important facts about kids:

• They actually want to be with you as much as possible.

• You can't force them to help you in any way that is truly helpful.

I played fact one against fact two and told her that she didn't have to help me but couldn't just sit and watch. She had to go elsewhere. Given a choice between being with me and folding laundry or not being with me at all, she took option one. (Parenting.com: You can't always be evenhanded )

Why it works: I didn't care which she chose. And it was her choice, so it gave her control even as it took it away.

I don't work past 8 p.m.

Goal: Regular bedtimes and time off for you

You can't just announce a rule to your husband and kids that says, "Bedtime has to go really smoothly so I can get a break at the end of the day." It won't happen. But if you flip the problem and make a rule about you instead of telling everyone what they have to do, it all falls neatly -- and miraculously -- into place. When this occurred to me, back when my oldest was 6 and my youngest was nearly 2, I announced to Anna and Taylor that the U.S. Department of Labor had just created a new rule and I was no longer allowed to do any kind of mom jobs past 8 in the evening. I would gladly read books, play games, listen to stories of everyone's day, give baths -- the whole mother package -- before then. Then I held firm -- I acted as if it were out of my hands. Sort of like Cinderella and midnight. Suddenly, my 6-year-old (and my husband) developed a new consciousness of time. My daughter actually rushed to get ready for bed just after dinner so that we could have lots of books and time together before I was "off." My husband, realizing that if things dragged past 8 he'd have to face putting both girls to sleep himself, became more helpful. Anna's now 11, and my hours have been extended, but the idea that I'm not endlessly available has been preserved and integrated into our family routine.

Why it works: You're not telling anyone else what to do. The rule is for you, so you have only yourself to blame if it's not enforced. (Parenting.com: TLC for you )

You get what you get, and you don't throw a fit

Goal: No more haggling -- over which pretzel has more salt or who gets their milk in the prized red cup and who in the cursed green, or which cast member of "Blue's Clues" adorns whose paper plate

My friend Joyce, director of our town's preschool, told us about this terrific rule, now repeated by everyone I know on playgrounds and at home. Not only does it have a boppy rhythm that makes it fun to say, but it does good old "Life isn't fair" one better by spelling out both the essential truth of life's arbitrary inequities and the only acceptable response to the world's unfairness: You don't throw a fit. When I first heard this, I was skeptical. It seemed too simple. But to my utter surprise, not only did it do the trick but kids seemed to rally around it almost with relief. They must have seen that if it applied to them today it might apply to someone else tomorrow.

Why it works: It's irrefutable -- it almost has the ring of runic or prehistoric truth to it -- and rather than focusing on an abstract notion like "fairness," it speaks directly to the situation at hand.

Take that show on the road

Goal: Peace and quiet.

Is it just me or does someone saying "one-strawberry, two-strawberry, three-strawberry" over and over in a squeaky voice make you want to smash some strawberries into a pulpy mess? I want my kids to be gleefully noisy when they need and want to be. But I don't feel it's necessary that I be their audience/victim past a few minutes or so, or that I should have to talk (shout?) over their, um, joyous clamor when I'm on the phone. So once I've shown attention adequate to their display, I tell them that they're free to sing, bang, chant, or caterwaul to their hearts' content, just not here. The same goes for whining, tantrums, and generic pouting. For the irrational and long-winded whining jags sometimes used by her 4-year-old son, my friend Denise has turned this rule to a pithy declaration: "I'm ready to listen when you're ready to talk." She then leaves the room.

Why it works: It gives children a choice rather than a prohibition and does so without rejecting them.

Fuamami's Avatar Fuamami 05:58 PM 06-21-2007
I just read the excerpt, but it didn't sound so bad to me! I don't particularly like the take your show on the road, but I could see myself using some modification of those as my kids get older.

Am I evil?
maya44's Avatar maya44 06:00 PM 06-21-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by natensarah View Post
I just read the excerpt, but it didn't sound so bad to me! I don't particularly like the take your show on the road, but I could see myself using some modification of those as my kids get older.

Am I evil?
If you are evil, I am evil-er!

I use a form of almost ALL of these!

I particularly use the "if I am working in here you have to be also, if you want to stay with me"

Oh, and the "I don't work after 8:00 rule"? Well my kids are older, so it's 10:00. And there are execeptions in the event of illness or nightmares, but that it soooooooo the rule in my house!

I find that they keep me sane, and my family as a whole happy! Oh, and yes I like my kids!
rmzbm's Avatar rmzbm 06:01 PM 06-21-2007
I think it's pretty dumb myself. But then - I don't have ANY rules...besides basic health & safety ones.
FiddleMama's Avatar FiddleMama 06:14 PM 06-21-2007
I agree that the overall tone seems as though the author is a bit burnt out on being around her kids, which I'm guessing most of us can relate to from time to time.

Taking each of her "rules" seperately though, here's what I glean from them:

1. You can't be in the room when I'm working unless you work, too
There's something to be said for kids who appreciate the companionship of being near a parent without having to be "entertained" all the time. My 17 mo, for example, loves to fold laundry (i.e. pull it out of the baskets and carry it around the room) while I'm folding laundry.

2. I don't work past 8 p.m.
Good rule!

3. You get what you get, and you don't throw a fit
This rule isn't appropriate until the preschool years or so but it can be actually quite magical with 3 and 4 year olds. I used to teach preschool and the director of the school said this often in a playful way and the kids really responded in a positive way to it. It's a beginning form of learning acceptance and I think it's okay if it's used playfully and respectfully.

4. Take that show on the road
To me, this one just sounds like "Go away" and I have a hard time imagining when it might be appropriate. But my kid doesn't talk much yet so it might become clear to me soon enough.

Thanks for posting that! It was interesting to think about those rules.
Spanish Rose's Avatar Spanish Rose 06:30 PM 06-21-2007
I don't like the tone of the article, but the individual rules are great, as long as they don't throw more fuel on a powerstruggle. Granted, the no-fit rule will just lead to more frustration with tots, but once they get to three or so, it may work.

Rule number one in particular is great. I think all of the rules would be very helpful for a frazzled mommy who just needs some space/order/time to think, you know? it looks as though they could prevent a lot of problems.
scoobysgirl03's Avatar scoobysgirl03 06:31 PM 06-21-2007
I just can't imagine telling my child that they can't be with me unless they, too, are working. I don't want spending time with me to be a reward.
maya44's Avatar maya44 06:49 PM 06-21-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by scoobysgirl03 View Post
I just can't imagine telling my child that they can't be with me unless they, too, are working. I don't want spending time with me to be a reward.
Oh, no, no no. Read it again!

It's NOT "you can't spend time with me unless you are working.'

It's IF I am working right now, THEN you can't be here unless you are working too.

It's not a "reward' it's simply a statement that if I am working I deserve either 1)help or at least 2) to be left alone to do my work.

There are PLEANTY of times when I can devote myself to you to play etc.... or we can hang out together. NO strings or reward involved.

But when I have to work you have a choice. YOu can work with me, or you can go and do something else. It's not about a "reward" for doing work. It simply something that allows me to get the work done without constant interuptions.

This is VERY reasonable IMO.
NaomiMcC's Avatar NaomiMcC 06:55 PM 06-21-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by natensarah View Post
I just read the excerpt, but it didn't sound so bad to me! I don't particularly like the take your show on the road, but I could see myself using some modification of those as my kids get older.

Am I evil?
If you are...then I am too...I think some of these rules are great! While children are wonderful and a blessing...there's not your whole entire life. There needs to be adult time too and I think some of these would work to that. I love the "off at 8 p.m." rule
Ellien C's Avatar Ellien C 07:06 PM 06-21-2007
Oh Thank God they don't have to revoke my GA credentials for thinking some of these don't sound too bad. Thanks for having the guts to say it mothers!

I agree with the points about the tone though, but that's probably what sells her work and generates a paycheck for her.
scoobysgirl03's Avatar scoobysgirl03 07:12 PM 06-21-2007
I read it as "you cannot be in the same room as me/spend time with me unless you are working." Personally, I just wouldn't do it.
maya44's Avatar maya44 07:16 PM 06-21-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by scoobysgirl03 View Post
I read it as "you cannot be in the same room as me/spend time with me unless you are working." Personally, I just wouldn't do it.
It's simply not what it says. It makes clear that it is ONLY when she needs to do work around the house.

She specifically says they are going to get to be with her when she is done with the chores.

Frankly, I think its a supurb rule!
GinaRae's Avatar GinaRae 07:50 PM 06-21-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by FiddleMama View Post
3. You get what you get, and you don't throw a fit
This rule isn't appropriate until the preschool years or so but it can be actually quite magical with 3 and 4 year olds. I used to teach preschool and the director of the school said this often in a playful way and the kids really responded in a positive way to it. It's a beginning form of learning acceptance and I think it's okay if it's used playfully and respectfully.

This has been a LIFE SAVER!! They know they're allowed to ask for something (respectfully) and they know if we say no, they don't throw a fit, whine, scream, etc... They just accept it. This makes life in public and at home so much less aggravating when you have more than 1 child.

I can only imagine what life would be like if they were all asking, whining, begging and cajoling us into things at home or at the store. Keeping track of three busy boys lost in their own worlds is tough enough!

Once in a while (like today) one of them begins whining in the store and I can easily ask gfor quiet a moment and ask them if they've EVER gotten something from throwing a fit. They answer no. I ask if today's different. They answer no.

They might give me the stink eye or want the last word, but usually the fit is instantly over then and everything's a lot less stressful. My oldest has a mood disorder and things can errupt quickly, but with a solid, consistent foundation under him and experiences with parents who stand solid on everything, I am usually able to reign him in quickly and quietly.
Spanish Rose's Avatar Spanish Rose 08:01 PM 06-21-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by GinaRae View Post
This has been a LIFE SAVER!! They know they're allowed to ask for something (respectfully) and they know if we say no, they don't throw a fit, whine, scream, etc... They just accept it. This makes life in public and at home so much less aggravating when you have more than 1 child.

I can only imagine what life would be like if they were all asking, whining, begging and cajoling us into things at home or at the store. Keeping track of three busy boys lost in their own worlds is tough enough!

Once in a while (like today) one of them begins whining in the store and I can easily ask gfor quiet a moment and ask them if they've EVER gotten something from throwing a fit. They answer no. I ask if today's different. They answer no.

They might give me the stink eye or want the last word, but usually the fit is instantly over then and everything's a lot less stressful. My oldest has a mood disorder and things can errupt quickly, but with a solid, consistent foundation under him and experiences with parents who stand solid on everything, I am usually able to reign him in quickly and quietly.
But how do you enforce it?
scoobysgirl03's Avatar scoobysgirl03 08:02 PM 06-21-2007
I work FT and don't get to spend as much time with my DC as I would like. So my time with them is precious to me - whether I'm doing chores or otherwise. There are very few situations in which I would tell them they cannot be in the same room with me....and the fact that they do not want to participate in a chore is not one of them. A fine rule for others - just not for me!
mamalisa's Avatar mamalisa 08:07 PM 06-21-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by scoobysgirl03 View Post
I just can't imagine telling my child that they can't be with me unless they, too, are working. I don't want spending time with me to be a reward.
I read it more as "I'm not going to stop mopping the floor to fix your Barbie, put together your lego spaceship, make a little man out of playdough, so if you want to hang out here, grap a rag, otherwise let me get this done so we can do whatever we want". I use this all the time in the kitchen. Ds loves to hang out and chat, but really, he just gets in the way. If he's doing something productive (in a 6 year old way) he's learning something, helping and we can chat at the same time.
eightyferrettoes's Avatar eightyferrettoes 08:08 PM 06-21-2007
Those sound generally reasonable to me-- the bit about working is just a variation of my own mom's well-worn, "you can either help me out, or leave me alone" refrain.

And the bit about Mom not working past a certain hour is really a brilliant way to frame the bedtime issue, imho.

I think we DO tend to put ourselves out there as endlessly on-call, but that's a sure road to hard-core burnout and depression, in my book.
ThreeBeans's Avatar ThreeBeans 08:12 PM 06-21-2007
I think these rules are great personally.

Gentle discipline goes both ways. It is perfectly ok for parents to say, "I have a limit and I need you to treat me gently and respectfully, too, the same way I do you." (Of course for older kids who understand)

DS early intervention playgroup leader uses a few of these with her (older) kids and from what I see they have a very gentle, loving and AP relationship.
GinaRae's Avatar GinaRae 08:46 PM 06-21-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spanish Rose View Post
But how do you enforce it?
(Re: You get what you get, and you don't throw a fit)

GOOD question! It helps when the child is old enough to grasp the concept and have self control. Really, you can try this fairly early on and just be patient, but not expect the world. It's sort of a primer. Preschool age seems to be the key.

It was pretty darn easy. Because we're attached parents with attached kids, it seemed to be easier than some might find.

Calm and consistent is key. You explain the concept as best you can and then just remain calm and consistent when putting it to use. Eventually they stop whining, screaming, throwing a fit because you're not giving in, and as parents you are a united front. You're calm, even smiling or giggling as they're having a fit, and it reassures them that they can STOP the fit and you will still open your arms to them.

I think sometimes once a fit has started, a child is afraid to stop because attention will stop or they will get repurcussions. Once the fit stops, you can say positive things to them.

It really just gets easy if YOU can be the consistent one. If you never back down. And that's hard too because sometimes you say no and then re-think it and WANT to say yes, but are afraid to undo what you've built.

In that case, my kids are old enough that I can explain to them that I was thinking about my decision and have changed my mind. They're usually just really grateful but don't expect it all the time.

Also, they need to be surprised and appreciated and they need to have those moments when they think their parents couldn't possibly be cooler than they are at that moment. You need a lot of fun at other times, in other words. The kids are generally so much more light hearted and less stressed then, you know?

I can only imagine there are a few kids that this wouldn't work so easily on. I don't know, because mine, as different as they are, were pretty easy. But they still test me! Expect that too. That's natural
onemoremom's Avatar onemoremom 08:47 PM 06-21-2007
I'm glad I'm not the only one who likes these rules.
Mamma Mia's Avatar Mamma Mia 08:49 PM 06-21-2007
"You get what you get and you don't get upset" is the bane of my existence.

Somehow, my dd learned it in the few weeks she was in preschool. She claims that's all she learned at school. But seriously, way to re-enforce to me that I wanted to homeschool all along.

The other ones are not so bad. This particular one is horrid, IMO. Kids have these well developed senses of injustice peole are always trying to quash. Instead of shutting down emotional responses to what's not fair, how about give your child the emotional tools to process the hurt and upset and talk about it?
ThreeBeans's Avatar ThreeBeans 08:54 PM 06-21-2007
I see a difference between "you don't get upset" and "you don't throw a fit".
Mamma Mia's Avatar Mamma Mia 08:55 PM 06-21-2007
Whatever. It's a rhyme that is dismissive of kids' feelings. I just wish we could be more grown up ourselves about such things.
ThreeBeans's Avatar ThreeBeans 08:59 PM 06-21-2007
I guess I don't agree
Spanish Rose's Avatar Spanish Rose 09:02 PM 06-21-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by GinaRae View Post
(Re: You get what you get, and you don't throw a fit)

GOOD question! It helps when the child is old enough to grasp the concept and have self control. Really, you can try this fairly early on and just be patient, but not expect the world. It's sort of a primer. Preschool age seems to be the key.

It was pretty darn easy. Because we're attached parents with attached kids, it seemed to be easier than some might find.

Calm and consistent is key. You explain the concept as best you can and then just remain calm and consistent when putting it to use. Eventually they stop whining, screaming, throwing a fit because you're not giving in, and as parents you are a united front. You're calm, even smiling or giggling as they're having a fit, and it reassures them that they can STOP the fit and you will still open your arms to them.

I think sometimes once a fit has started, a child is afraid to stop because attention will stop or they will get repurcussions. Once the fit stops, you can say positive things to them.

It really just gets easy if YOU can be the consistent one. If you never back down. And that's hard too because sometimes you say no and then re-think it and WANT to say yes, but are afraid to undo what you've built.

In that case, my kids are old enough that I can explain to them that I was thinking about my decision and have changed my mind. They're usually just really grateful but don't expect it all the time.

Also, they need to be surprised and appreciated and they need to have those moments when they think their parents couldn't possibly be cooler than they are at that moment. You need a lot of fun at other times, in other words. The kids are generally so much more light hearted and less stressed then, you know?

I can only imagine there are a few kids that this wouldn't work so easily on. I don't know, because mine, as different as they are, were pretty easy. But they still test me! Expect that too. That's natural

Well, that makes sense. The rule gave the impression that, as soon as you said it, they would stop screeming. Which is very much not the case with my son-- we work so hard to get him to just use his words that any attempts to silence him will erase a month of work. Still, for some kiddos that sounds like a sensible route-- there are some kids who escalate when you reflect feelings, maybe this would work for them.

Of course, I don't see tantrums as manipulative, so I've never felt the need to point out that they won't work.

Still, the approach seems valid...especially with older kids, who already are secure in their attachments and their abilities to communicate feelings. I think I get it!
limabean's Avatar limabean 09:28 PM 06-21-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mamma Mia View Post
"You get what you get and you don't get upset" is the bane of my existence.

Somehow, my dd learned it in the few weeks she was in preschool. She claims that's all she learned at school. But seriously, way to re-enforce to me that I wanted to homeschool all along.

The other ones are not so bad. This particular one is horrid, IMO. Kids have these well developed senses of injustice peole are always trying to quash. Instead of shutting down emotional responses to what's not fair, how about give your child the emotional tools to process the hurt and upset and talk about it?
We used "You get what you get and you don't throw a fit" when I was student teaching in a kindergarten class, and it worked great! It was always said in a really lighthearted way, and the kids responded positively to it and learned that every little moment that varies from "perfect" in some way doesn't necessarily need to have a big dramatic response. A classroom is a cooperative environment -- things aren't going to go exactly the way *each child* wants them to at all times, and I think it's great if kids can learn to brush off the small stuff, and to differentiate the small stuff from the big stuff.

We didn't use it in some cold-hearted way; we would never say it if a kid came to us with a true problem or need, but if we were passing out popsicles, we weren't going to sit there for 15 minutes while each kid dug through the boxes to get the particular color they wanted -- they lined up, we passed them out in whatever order we got them out of the box, and that was that.
bdavis337's Avatar bdavis337 10:53 PM 06-21-2007
Don't throw a fit. This is more appropriate for "older" young ones, like my 6 year old who KNOWS darn well the juice tastes exactly the same in the glass as it does in the Spiderman Crazy Straw Cup that's filthy dirty with crusty milk on it under the table from last night. I think it's about age-appropriateness in some ways.

I also refuse, and I mean REFUSE, to listen to my 6 year old complain that he can't brush his teeth downstairs instead of upstairs when his father has "occupied" said downstairs bathroom and cannot be moved. I will not extend bedtime, fake empathy or even let him stand in front of me and pout. Everything is the same up as it is down. IDENTICAL. He can pout in the bathroom while he brushes his teeth, but not in front of me. It's amazing, but when I installed this little rule about a year ago, his whiny talk decreased dramatically.
Mamma Mia's Avatar Mamma Mia 02:38 AM 06-22-2007
I still think that talking about why it makes them upset and acknowledging that it sucks (if it can't be changed) and modeling good disappointed talking behavior is better than brushing it off with a catchy little dismissive rhyme.
myjulybabes's Avatar myjulybabes 03:07 AM 06-22-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mamma Mia View Post
I still think that talking about why it makes them upset and acknowledging that it sucks (if it can't be changed) and modeling good disappointed talking behavior is better than brushing it off with a catchy little dismissive rhyme.
I mostly agree, but I think that's why "you don't throw a fit" is different than "you don't get upset". It's perfectly fine to feel disappointed that you didn't get the cup you wanted. Kicking and screaming about it...not so much. Well, once they're old enough to understand that there are other ways to express feelings, of course, which is why I think most people are saying this works better for older kids.

We totally do the "Take the show on the road" thing. Dd's favorite game is to "teach the class". She talks (and talks and talks) to a group of imaginary students, and seriously does NOT welcome input from us. So that can happen in her room, especially when I have a headache.

Oddly, the one I don't like is "I don't work after 8". Which is silly, because I'm a huge proponent of bedtimes, my kids have them, we enforce them, even in the summer (bedtime is a little later, but there's still bedtime!). But the wording rubs me wrong somehow on this one. Maybe I'm just weird.
limabean's Avatar limabean 03:32 AM 06-22-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mamma Mia View Post
I still think that talking about why it makes them upset and acknowledging that it sucks (if it can't be changed) and modeling good disappointed talking behavior is better than brushing it off with a catchy little dismissive rhyme.
Maybe ... with one kid, and not a whole class like in my example above.

But ... I don't know, some things (like the color of a popsicle) really *aren't* a big deal. I know that to a kid it can be a big deal, but I think that if an adult enables a kid's fit by having a big emotional discussion over every little thing, it reinforces to the kid that that kind of stuff really *must* be hugely important and something to flip out over.

I agree with teaching them and modelling for them how to express their disappointment in an appropriate manner; maybe the "you get what you get" thing is more fitting for older kids who have been taught that basic stuff and just need a little reminder.

It's fine if the wording bothers you -- I've been bothered by phrases that other people didn't find offensive before. But I think the intended sentiment really isn't "Get over it, kid," but something much more playful and gentle (at least the way I've seen it used).
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