bcdad asks:

Any ideas on discipline choices for my 11 year old son?

*I also have a 9 year old son & a 2.5 year old son.
*We do not spank anymore given his age.
*Taking away his game boy, TV, or grounding him does not work.
*I'm reasearching creative alternatives to the above, but it's a long list.
*My wife and I have been trying to turn a scenario where he's in the wrong into a learning opportunity like finding some bible verses on anger if that is what he got into trouble for.

 (Who answers these questions?  A trained counselor @ education.com or anyone in cyberspace?)
In Topics: Discipline and behavior challenges
> 60 days ago



Hand in Hand
Aug 7, 2009
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What the Expert Says:

Dear Father:

Good for you for looking for alternatives to taking things away and grounding your son. As you have seen, these are very weak incentives to behave well, and only work a time or two. They build resentment and a feeling of not being liked or understood in a child, and that resentment then causes even more trouble as time goes on.

What really helps a child is feeling close to his/her parents! A sense of closeness and warmth, parent toward child, and some play together can ease a child's sense of separateness in the family, allowing him to make better choices about how to use his time.

Any child who has a couple of siblings and busy parents is bound to feel separate, not fully understood, and to have those feelings get in his way of making good decisions. You can't reason feelings away, just like you can't tell the clouds to stop raining, or the wind to stop blowing. One person's emotional weather system is not controllable by another person, but it can be influenced.

A good first step is to institute "Special Time" in your family, for each of your children. You pick a time when you're not rushed or worried. You have your wife take two of the children, and you take the third. You say, "I have a half hour. I'll do whatever you want to do! What do you want to do?" and off you go. With an older child, you need to say also whether they can spend money, and whether you can use the car. I would say, at least at first, that you're not going to spend money, but a quick car ride so there's time to play catch at the park would be OK, if that's what you want to do!

Then, pay attention, offer touch, eye contact, and a generous heart toward your son and whatever he picks. Work to connect. When the half hour is up, give a warm hug, and promise another Special Time soon.

Kids really enjoy having a parent's undivided attention. It fills their "connection tank" with a good feeling. But often, after Special Time, they will have a meltdown over something small, maybe even the end of Special Time. Be prepared for this--it's not being ungrateful! It's your child's emotional mind, trying to unload really sad or mad feelings that have been sitting there fermenting for a long time, and causing everyone trouble. When your child becomes upset, they're not bad, they're trying to have a good cry or tantrum to clear emotions away, so they can think, cooperate, and feel your love again. Sneezes eject germs and gunk in the nose, poop ejects undigested food, and crying and tantrums eject negative feelings. So listen, offer your understanding that life feels awful because there's not more time for play right now, hold your ground, "No, we can't do more Special Time today, but we can next Saturday," and give your son time, lots of time, to be fully upset and mad at you. Stay there. This is when kindness and love really, really make a difference--right when a child is feeling his worst.

There's more about this way of parenting--you set the limit, but you stay and listen to the feelings about the limit, until the child can do reasonable things again--on our website, and in our booklets. And I'll add an anecdote, so you can get a feel for how this works in action.

Hope this helps. He's a lucky boy to have such a proactive Dad, trying hard to understand what really works with a fine, sweet son.


Patty Wipfler
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Additional Answers (3)

dgraab , Parent writes:
Hello BCDad,

Thanks for your question to JustAsk, Education.com's community-based Q&A resource. Answers in JustAsk are contributed voluntarily by members of the Education.com community (primarily parents offering peer-to-peer advice, but also teachers, tutors, school administrators, non-profit organizations, and others invested in the education and healthy development of children). There are also topical JustAsk Experts from a variety of occupations: pediatricians, psychologists, school counselors, teachers, parent coaches, education consultants, and other highly-qualified professionals who are screened against rigorous criteria. For instance, Education.com reviews a potential expert's degrees and other credentials (such as licenses), years of experience, advice/writing style, recommendations/reputation and more. Once an Expert is confirmed, Education.com also continues to monitor his/her participation within JustAsk -- toward the highest quality experience for JustAsk members.

With regard to your challenge with your 11 year old son, I have forwarded your question along to a couple of JustAsk Experts who I think would be able to offer you some valuable advice (for free). Additionally, here are some other resources on Education.com you may also find helpful...

Discipline info center: http://www.education.com/topic/discipline/

Preteen Years info center: http://www.education.com/age/preteen-years/

Managing Challenging Child Behavior info center: http://www.education.com/topic/misbehavior-discipline/

All the best to your family - I hope you are able to find the right approach for effectively disciplining your son.

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sluehring , School Administrator, Teacher, Parent writes:
Hi Bcdad,

Working with children that age (and really any age), I'm convinced that what works for one child does not always work for another.  You might consider asking teachers or others that also know your son well.  Aside from that however there are a few suggestions that I would through out that have seemed to be quite effective on the majority of children.

1.  Develop a 'processing form."  It could included writing out the facts of the offense what led up to the offense and what he will do differently in the future.  This forces him to recognize what the behavior is and think about the future.  The key for you is to not accept the form until real thought is put into it.  When I use them (not for every offense) I hand them back if the answers don't demonstrate a lot of thought.  Of course that is a good place to talk about or include Christian principles.

2.  Oldest children have unique needs (consider reading Kevin Leman's 'Birth Order')  He may respond well to a responsibility chart which gives him opportunities to earn (or lose) privileges that are different from the other children because he is older.  Perhaps 1/2 extra of TV or time before bed.  It can be quite small but make a big difference.

3.  If your child is 'strong-willed." consider taking the advise of Dr. James Dobson:  Don't give up.  In time it will pay off. Consistency is important.  Pick the rules and consequences and provide a united front.  It sounds like you are already doing that. . .

Blessings on your greatest responsibility . . .

> 60 days ago

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professortom writes:
Greetings. First I would suggest open communication with your wife so that you both agree on the discipline process. Determine what the wrong is. When the child is "in the wrong" stop the "wrong" and create a teachable moment. The discipline for the "wrong" shoud be agreed upon and consistent. After the child has calmed down, the Bible verses could be incorported.In the meantime determine what the "right" is and praise the child for accomplishing the "right". Ensure that there is quality time being spent with the child. Foster open communication with the nine year old so that he understands the expectations set before him. Incorporate fun into the home routine.
> 60 days ago

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