What a hot topic this has been!
Since posting a video of Jordy (3) emphatically defending his brother Jackson (5) at the announcement that his older brother needed chilli for his bad behaviour, my Insta inbox was flooded on questions, opinions, and not unexpectedly, a few disapproving remarks. It was requested that we run a poll to see what worked for parents when more serious methods of discipline are required.
Before getting onto the results of the poll, I thought I would touch on a few things, and answer a few of the frequently-asked questions I got:
There is sooooo much to be said on the subject of discipline, it is a multi-faceted subject for me, and maybe something we can look into more deeply in another post, but I will try and put our view point into a summary:
- We believe in lots of love. In celebrating our children and their different strengths. In praising them for good behaviour, choices and achievements and making them feel special for these things, and more. We believe in having fun, hugging, playing, joking and story telling. We believe in laughing so hard that we are crying, with each other, at each other and because of each other. We believe in a happy home.
- We believe in positive parenting, but we don’t feel this is an adequate for of discipline in isolation – at least not with two busy and sometimes somewhat unruly boys. We do aim to focus first on the positive behaviours, and celebrate and reward those. We believe in mutual respect, not only that they must respect us as their parents, but that we too must respect them as little humans, their emotions and their feelings. We fail as parents and know that there are times we must say sorry to our children – we are NOT always right and we do make mistakes. It is so incredible to watch my five year old’s eyes connecting with my soul as I apologise to him for shouting at him when it wasn’t his fault, and to see his trust in me grow as he says, “thats okay, Mommy”.
- We believe in giving and allowing our children to make their own choices. Sometimes those choices are; “Jordy, you can either come upstairs and get ready for bed with your brother now and listen to a bedtime story, or you can spend 10 minutes in time out and miss the bedtime story”. It is now up to him which choice he makes, and the consequences thereof.
- We believe in being a safe place for our children. We believe that in being consistent in our parenthood journey and our words following through in our actions. We are able to create this safe space, because our children are able to know where we stand, what we believe in, and how we would react in various situations. Because if and when we say “NO”, no matter how much they nag, the answer is always going to be NO. This allows them (over time) to see that nagging is not effective, and thus won’t waste their time doing it (most times!! There are always exceptions to the rule).
- We believe that with oodles of love comes firm boundaries. We believe that boundaries aid in creating that safe space for our children. Again, with knowing where the line is, and understanding that crossing that line will mean there are consequences. And when these boundaries are pushed or crossed we believe in consequences, in most cases this comes in the shape of discipline.
- We believe that in disciplining there are various factors to take into consideration when deciding on the consequence.
– The child, their love language, what works for them, and their personality.
– The behaviour itself: was it a malicious and intentional act, one that has been repeated and done knowing the outcome, or was it something that was off-the-cuff and unconscious and innocent for the most part? Discipline will obviously differ accordingly.
– Other factors: is there anything else that may have caused this behaviour. Maybe the child is unsettled as there have been changes in home or school environment. Maybe, for whatever reason, there has been substantially less quality time with a parent and they are acting out in response. Maybe there has been less routine and structure which has left the child feeling a little ‘unsafe’, and thus causing irrational behaviour. Whatever the backstory, if there are external factors which may have brought on unruly behaviour, it is our belief, that whilst we may take such factors into consideration and lessen the ‘severity’ of discipline, there will still always be a consequence of some level. We believe that bad behaviour is never something we glass over, no matter what the child may be experiencing on an emotional level. It may sound harsh, but in our mind it is an essential life skill. Learning how to manage behaviours, despite internal emotions, is a much-needed life skill. You will see our kids taking themselves out of situations that they feel overwhelmed in, sometimes going to jump on the trampoline, come for a big hug, or even on occasion putting themselves into a “time out” in order to calm themselves down. They are still kids and still of course have outbursts and bad behaviour, but we believe they are learning how to better cope with their emotions through ensuring they know that voluntary bad behaviours are not acceptable behaviours.
- We believe in discussing the issue after the issue. We believe that once the discipline is over, whether that has been time out, no bedtime story or something more drastic like chilli, there is always a discussion with our child. We get down to their level, disarm them with a hug and love on them a bit, and then discuss their behaviour and why they had to have whatever consequence thereof. We allow them time to talk us through why they did what they did, and that they understand why we had to follow through with the consequence. We talk through their feelings, how their behaviour made them and us feel, and why it isn’t a behaviour we want in our family. They always understand, appreciate the intimacy of the chat, and then we all move on and forget about it.
We don’t only stick to one method of discipline. As mentioned earlier, the level of behaviour will often dictate the measure of discipline. While it was super interesting seeing the results of the poll on the subject of smacking… I personally I don’t believe that smacking works for our kids, although I do find pulling their ears does the trick for a quick and subtle stop-that-right-now 😉
Other methods of discipline that we use are:
- Time Out (in a bathroom and away from us)
- No TV time
- No play dates with friends
- No treats that afternoon (like a donut or a juice, although this is normally only given on a Friday or weekend, I am strict like that 😉 )
- Cancellation of a planned fun activity on the weekend
- The infamous chilli or hot sauce
I need to make it known that ‘chilli’ or ‘hot sauce’ is not something we use often, it isn’t even something we use frequently. It is a method of discipline we have used before, and will more than likely use again, but it comes out in instances where there has been noticeably unruly or unkind behaviour, lying or blatant disrespect for us as parents, or any other ‘authority’ figures, like their nanny, teacher, grandparents or the like. I would say that Jackson has had hot sauce a maximum of three times in his life to date, and Jordy probably 4 times, total. So before you think that we are awfully cruel for setting our children’s mouths alight, consider that 3 times in 2007 days (365 days x 5.5years), is really not bad going… The reason it works so well is that the memory of the chilli is what keeps the behaviour in tact !! Just the mere mention of the chilli is enough to rectify the behaviour in most instances – it works like a charm!
And now onto the results of the poll:
There were nearly 500 votes! And the results may surprise you – they certainly surprised me!!
Starting with the form of discipline that received the least number of votes, which was not surprising for me:
What was surprising, though, was that over 90 people who voted on the poll use Hot Sauce as a form of discipline! That is quite substantial if you ask me! Of the 96 people who use a hot sauce, 79% administer with by a dot of the chilli on the finger, while 21% administer a teaspoon.
I give a healthy sized dose on my finger 😉
Next up was something that surprised me, as I thought this was a more popular means of discipline:
I really did expect this to be ranked at the top of the list of chosen disciplines, knowing how it is used in schools, and just seems to be so frequently discussed in my mama circles. Interesting though that 80% of parents believe it is more effective when in another room or away from other family members – and I agree (depending on the child’s age, of course!)
Taking away things that kids love was ranked the second most popular method of discipline amongst the parents who took the poll. While it was certainly the closest of all the polls in terms of split, the most used method was:
REMOVAL OF TOYS
This takes me by surprise as a busy and mostly exhausted mama. Please tell me why you choose this method, mamas? Surely it hurst you as much as them?? When I close my kids’ playroom or take away toys that they play with frequently they nag and moan and argue and fight so much that I literally feel like I need a glass of the strong stuff before the evening is even mildly in sight! WHY? Please share with me? How does it work? What do your kids do when you take away their toys? How do you cope? I’m serious here… please tell me?? This was second to highest rated method for dealing with really bad behaviour, of 124 people who voted this option, 60% of you take their toys away, so it must mean it works!! But please shed some light on how YOU cope?
LAST BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST…
Would you believe that the highest ranked form of discipline for really bad behaviour is…
138 people voted that their method of handling really bad behaviour is still an old-school wallop! This totally astonished me, not because I don’t believe in smacking, but because I thought that because it is now considered illegal to smack your children in SA, I thought that there would a.) be a lower incidence of it, and b.) people would be far less brave to share that it was their chosen method of punishment.
What makes me sooooo happy about this stat though, is not there there are little red bottoms around… but that my followers really feel safe enough to trust that they can share this with me. Thank you for trusting me!
I have to assume that there was a large percentage of parents who weren’t as ‘brave’ or trusting, so I would be super interested to know what the stat might have been if it were completely anonymous. Maybe I will look into putting that together 🙂
So, of the 138 people who chose smacking as their first option, a whopping 80% said they choose the bum.
As mentioned above, I feel that smacking is very not effective in our home… That is not to say they haven’t had their share of smacks, but it’s just not something I see as effective in managing or changing behaviour, and thus for me personally it is my last choice. But as I said above, every child is different, and it’s each set of parent’s duty to find what works for their family, and each of their children. I don’t judge or have an opinion on how you choose to discipline your littles… if it works for you and your babes, then that’s great… But I do want to encourage you to really give thought into whether it is the best form of discipline for your individual child. Consider the many options out there, and experiment with them. See what your child responds to best, but above all else, whether you smack or not, whatever discipline you choose for your littles, I urge you, actually I beg you to please ensure that your children have a safe place with you. That is everything.
I was going to add some other recommended methods of discipline sent in by others here… but I actually feel like this is a nice place to leave off… I’ll add them to my stories!
Lots of love always,