Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Push Ups for Discipline

With my first child I started disciplining the way I was disciplined, spanking. 5 -6 good wallops and your good, right? I found that for me I did not enjoy this at all. I found that after the first spanking the second was me taking my frustration out on the child. Not fair for the child. And the child was afraid of me. 

My wife and I searched for alternate methods to discipline. The one we found that we liked the best was from Love And Logic. Give them choices and if need be use time out for punishment. For the most part it worked. Or at least it gave us something better then the spanking. Our kids responded well to it. As our older children mature the time out is a lot less effective. If you enjoy it, its not a punishment. So off we were searching for something else that would work for our older children.

Someone we were talking to mentioned doing push ups as a punishment. It sounded plausible and our oldest was interested in getting stronger. So we decided to try it. At first it was challenging for the children but it created a positive way of disciplining that took anger out of the mixture. My children and I were able to step away from the situation, cool off, and then talk about it after they were done. Wow what a difference. 

So some of the pros, cons and variances we have seen or had to deal with:

Pro: It gives me and them time to cool off and be calmer when we talk about whats going on.
Pro: It can separate two arguing siblings and let them cool off, diffusing the situation immediately.

Variances: What if a child loves push ups? It is not a punishment to all children. Try sit ups. My nephew will do push ups and enjoy every minute of it. Ask him to do sit ups, now there is a punishment. So they modify it for him.

Con: Will they begin to hate physical activity? That was a concern, but from our experience, the more push ups my kids do the more confident they have become about their physical capability. We also assign more push ups the more they can do to meet the skill and capability of the child. My 13 year old will now get 30-40 push ups for punishment but my 6 year old will only get 10. I have in extreme situations when it was very bad given up to 80 push ups to be completed over a period of a few hours. I feel it gives that child a lot of time to think about what they did. I tailor this to the capability of the child. I can't expect my 6 year old to do more than 20 but my 11 year old can hack it.

Variances: If kids start counting or policing another child's push ups. They will join them. Complaining that another child didn't do all their push ups or counting the push ups will get themselves assigned push ups.

I have used this at stores or out in public as well. If they are goofing off and will not listen. Tell them drop and give me 20. It stops their behavior, lets them know your fed up with their activity, gives them time to think about it and you haven't touched them. (Worried about dirty floors, give them a antibacterial wipe. After 6 kids I am a little less concerned about stuff like that.)  

Disciplining can never be a one size fits all or never changing. Parents should always find new and better ways to reach their children. I am sure as my oldest grows I will be finding something else to fit his needs for discipline. Whatever you do consistency in application is the most important key.

What you say is what you mean. What you mean is what you do.

Thanks for letting me share. It has worked great in our family, so much so that my siblings have tried it and see positive results from their children. It has changed the landscape of how I deal with problems. And I like that. 

Just a note: It doesn't work extremely well for younger children even though it is cute to see them mimic their older siblings. I still use time outs for the younger ones.


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