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Planning Predictable Parenting Policy

The lack of professionalism and true leadership qualities during this election cycle makes me question, what happened to dependability, integrity, and accountability (to name a few)? This thought process lead me to reflect on how I influence my children through the leadership choices I make in guiding them to adulthood.

As parents, we know how important it is to be consistent. This is easier said then done. Juggling our daily lives, crafting our careers, trying to make healthy choices, nurturing our relationship and communities all put a strain on our ability to be consistent. Not only is consistency a challenge, choosing the right disciplinary approach is tricky.

With four boys, I’ve tried most techniques (some regrettably) and have come to the conclusion no matter what you do, make sure it’s predictable. Several techniques we have tried include “Love and Logic,” timeouts, behavioral economics (reward and punishment), corporal punishment, clip charts, stars/points and even yelling.

So what have I found to be immediate, consistent and effective? I have them go to their room with sand-timers.

I ordered plastic sand-timers in 2-minute, 5-minute, and 10-minute increments. Infractions include whining, screaming, hitting, back talking, not listening, rudeness, etc. This tactic can be used as early as 3 years old.

When someone whines, I say “two-minutes” and point to their rooms. If they comply immediately, they go to their rooms and grab the two-minute timer, flip it over and come out after the two minutes. The sand-timers are excellent educational resources to show the passage of time. Many children really don’t have a firm grasp of time in general and the sand provides a great visual.

If I say “TWO-minutes” and they reply “BUT MOM…” I interject and immediately say “FIVE-minutes!”

If challenged again or another undesirable behavior surfaces (like being distracted or using excuses) I increase it to ten-minutes in their room. It only takes a few of the ten-minute infractions for them to learn not to challenge the lesson. I am mindful to stay stern but not emotional. Most importantly, I stay consistent!

Before starting this technique we explained and rehearsed how it worked and how it escalates in a neutral emotional setting. Sharing how to execute the strategy before an incident occurs helps take the emotion out of the situation when it actually arises.

My hope is that I’m conveying a thoughtful parental policy that is clearly communicated. The intention of this approach is to instill an atmosphere of fairness, dependability, integrity and accountability – precisely the things I expect in a leader, and qualities I hope my children will exemplify.