Monday, May 25, 2009

The Dynamic Discipline Equation

After the nice distracting weekend, it is time to get back to it... Discipline! Opportunity equals responsibility. Choose, decide, pick. There are 4 steps in the Equation. 1. Explain the opportunity the child has and the responsibility that goes along with it before you implement any consequences. "You have the opportunity to _____. It is your responsibility to ____. If you choose ____, then you are choosing ____." By explaining the opportunity and the responsibility clearly, you give the child control over the outcome. You give them responsibility for their choices. 2. Allow the child to choose the behavior and thus the outcome which follows. You break it down into choices. If you choose this behavior, this is what you choose to have happen. If you choose this other behavior, you choose this other outcome. 3. Follow through immediately by altering the opportunity. Give no second chance. The chosen behavior is the chosen outcome. Period. 4. Do give other opportunities to handle the responsibility later. If you want them to learn to make good choices, you have to give them chances to practice and have the chance to choose. So after the consequence of a chosen behavior, once the moment has passed... the child should be able to go back to the situation again. A really great example is given in the text of the equation in action. A dad and a teenage daughter- she wants to use the car. She asks to use the car. He tells her that she can- and goes on to explain that "You have the opportunity to use the car tonight and any weekend night that I'm not using it. You also have the responsibility to return it with half a tank of gas or more." He goes on to explain that opportunity equals responsibility. If she chooses to return the car with gas in the tank, she is choosing to use the car again the next night. If she chooses to not fulfill her responsibility, she is choosing not to use the car the next night. The next morning, dad runs an errand and the tank is below half. Of course. He tells his daughter... "I see you have chosen not to use the car tonight." She questions him and he explains, again, the opportunity equals responsibility that he'd explained the night before. She gives excuses- she was running late and stopping for gas would have meant breaking curfew. Does he want her home on time or does he want gas in the car? His answer? Both! She then proceeds to beg and bargain, trying to get dad to give her the car for that night. He stands firm, but not angry. The answer is simply no. She stomps away- and he leaves her be. Instead of getting hooked into an angry argument, he goes about his business. In addition to upholding the Equation, dad also didn't demean his daughter or make her feel stupid, lazy, forgetful, etc. The next weekend, she asked again for the car. He gave the same answer- fill the tank before returning the car. If she puts gas in the car, she has learned about responsibility. If she again chooses not to put gas in the car, she learns about consequences from her actions. The chapter continues on the subject of consequences. There are 3 R's- Relate (the consequence must relate to the behavior), Reasonable (design reasonable consequences), and Respectful (deliver consequences in a respectful manner). In addition, there is a huge focus on the "cause and effect connectors." Words like choose, choice, pick, decide. "If you choose to pour water on the floor, you are choosing to be done with sink playtime." "When you choose not to pick up your toys, you are deciding to have them put up for the rest of the day." You should feel, at the end of the day, that all you've done is say choose/decide/pick all day long. Overuse it! Abuse it! The conclusion of the chapter focuses on your attitude. The parent's attitude sets the tone and determines if the Equation will succeed or fail. A main tenet of this attitude needs to be that we don't care about what the child chooses. WHAT? Don't care? How can I not care? It's an attitude adjustment. It's accepting that no matter what the child chooses, what they choose is right. They learn from whatever choice they make. The choice they make reflects on them, not on us. Of course, there are times when we will absolutely feel angry. And it is important that kids know when we are angry or frustrated. But our own anger can serve as an example, a teaching tool by modeling, of how to handle anger. Next chapter... The Positive Anger Explosion. Tune in tomorrow for more! Based on the comments last week... it seems those interested in possibly winning a free copy of the book are Flartus, Mrs4444, Lisa, Tom, Mary Ellen, Jackie, Heather, Amy, C. Beth, and Kristi. Keep chatting, keep commenting... sometime in the next week or so, I'll announce a big old win for someone!!


Mary Ellen said...

I think this is a terrific series of posts you're doing - really great stuff. This one in particular describes (much more articulately than I ever could) my basic beliefs on the subject.

Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

i love that this is all about choices. i think it's a wonderful thing to give a child the option to choose. because how are we all supposed to learn the right decision if we don't get the choice?

even with out kids, this is great for me to tuck into the back of my mind for years down the road. too bad i can't use it on my dogs ;)