I started using “creative consequences” for my kids about six months ago and was shocked at what a difference it made in whether or not they actually listen to me. It gets their attention much faster than the typical lines they’ve heard a thousand times. Some of them may seem kind of silly, but that’s why they work, and kids love them. I have been lately reading a book that gives me endless ideas on how to maintain discipline in my house, without compromising on the freedom of my kids. I highly recommend this book as a great investment for all new parents. You can check it out on the following link.
Also, for your easiness, here are some of the consequences that I started enforcing:
1. Use a “You Rock” jar. When your child does something great that’s completely out of the blue, let him pick from the “You Rock” jar. In this jar, you keep some pieces of paper and a reward on each one. Ideas for rewards can be picking the movie for family movie night, choosing dinner for the night, reading an extra book at bedtime, or watching an extra ten minutes of TV.
2. Do something silly. Where the “You Rock” jar works well for acknowledging big behaviors, this works well for small behaviors. We started doing “honesty high fives”, where every time our kids are honest about something; they get a “honesty high five.” Also, when one of the kids eats all of their veggies at dinner, we do a “veggie run” which is like the goal that soccer players do after scoring a goal. We run around the table once and yell “veggie run!”.
3. Use songs. Songs about daughters growing up. We started using certain songs or changing the words to popular songs when our kids aren’t listening. For instance, when our kids don’t want to take a bath, we sing “We Like to Take Baths” to the tune of “We Like to Party” by the Venga Boys. Or, when we’re trying to talk and the kids aren’t listening, we use a song from our children’s preschool. It’s to the tune of “Frere Jacque” and the words are, “Eyes are watching, ears are listening, voices quiet, bodies calm. This is how we listen, this is how we listen when others talk when others talk.”
4. Set-up Timers: This game is loved by both me and my kids. Anything I want them to do quickly, I shout out saying I’m setting the timer and off they are to finish their work. Be it their homework, cleaning up their rooms or simply finishing their meal on time. This also teaches them time management. One who wins gets a candy treat or becomes the speedy sonic for the day.
5. Silence Time: This works well if your kids have started saying unkind words or use inappropriate tone in the house. Anyone who does that has to remain silent for the next 10-15 minutes. In between this silence time, I sub-consciously tell them how important it is to use kind words and the impact of being polite to others. Trust me, this works.
6. Create “get-along” shirts or pants to use when they’re fighting. I got this idea from one of my friends – when she was younger and she would fight with her brother, her parents made them each get in one side of a pair of “get-along pants” and sing “We Can Work it Out”. She said that it worked because they would then join forces by both being mad at their parents instead. Now she is one of the kindest and most hilarious people I know, so that’s good enough for me. These are the shorts that I use for “get-along” pants. I wrote “We <3 Each Other” on them Smiley Icon
7. Let the punishment fit the crime. If your child throws something, have her go outside and throw things for ten minutes. If your child leaves toys out after he’s supposed to have picked them up, put them in a hidden bin, and have him either earn them back or look for them.
8. For the super hyper and naughty kids, I use the coding technique. We have secret code titles that have a special meaning and only we in the family know. Whenever I see my kids doing something inappropriate in front of others, all I need to do is say that code word and they know they have done something wrong. This doesn’t put me into any kind of guilt nor embarrasses my kids for misbehaving.
9. Sloppy work: Most kids get into a phase of doing everything with no interest, in a hurry or in a sloppy manner. If you have been facing such a problem, make your kids do the work again; be it their school assignment or the household chores. Make them understand that doing one thing again and again in order to do it right is much more difficult than doing it right in the first time only. This way, they will learn to focus and work with dedication.
10. Crying corner: If you have younger ones who have recently started showing you tantrums, and throw fits for not getting an ice-cream, either assign a crying corner, away from the lounge or send them to their room. Ask them to cry as loud and hard as they want till 10 minutes. Make sure you don’t talk to them or look at them when they are in the crying corner so that they know their tantrums don’t work on parents. 10 minutes will be a lot and you will see them coming out in a minute or two.
11. Pair-up: Sibling rivalries are a part of every childhood but very stressing to handle. Just when you see your kids not gelling in cooperating with each other, put them into a task and pair them together. Incentivize their task with a treat, movie or some extra playing time. With a common goal to get the incentive, they will not only finish the task but also learn to work together as one team.
12. Let them decide: Kids know when they are wrong or what wrong they have done. Sometimes it’s good to let them tell you rather than you pointing out at their mistake. Allow your kids to identify what could have been right or better or what should be the consequence of their behavior and act. This will teach your kids empathy and they will not take you as a bad parent.
Don’t make creative consequences punishments for your kids. Make them easy on their emotions but firm on their learning. The idea is to teach them discipline without being penalized or bribed. Let me know when you try any of the above. Also, if you have used any other creative consequences, I would love to know about them.