I remember the day our older son turned to the younger one and said, “You don’t have to do what mom is telling you to do. She won’t hold you to it and won’t actually follow through on the punishment.”
As a parent, I thought, “I was a pushover. My son thinks he can get away with not following through.”
Jane Nelsen, founder of Positive Discipline, has some great ideas for effective follow through.
- Have a friendly discussion where everyone gets to voice their feelings and thoughts about the issue.
- Have everyone come up with ideas to solve the problem, without judging the ideas at this point. Once everyone feels all of the possible solutions have been developed, discuss which idea everyone can live with.
- Agree to a specific time deadline, to the minute. (This is often the step that is missed!)
- Understand that the deadline will probably not be met. When it is not met, follow through with your part of the agreement, with no blame, shame or pain.
- For younger children, break down the tasks into smaller parts, in which the child will feel successful after partaking in completing small pieces of a larger project.
Here’s an example. Let’s say you have agreed that your teen will have the laundry folded by Sunday 5 P.M. If it isn’t done, keep the comments simple and clear, “I notice that you didn’t fold the laundry. Please do that now.” If your child objects or tries to delay, simply ask, “What was our agreement?” In response to further objections or efforts at delaying, keep your mouth shut and use nonverbal signals. Point to your watch or to the clock on the wall. Smile. Give a hug. Point to your watch or clock again. When the child gives in to the agreement, even with grunts and obvious expression of feeling annoyed, simply say, “Thank you for keeping our agreement.”
For younger children, parents can make a game out of it by saying, “I will pick-up this part, when you pick-up that part” or “I will pick-up all the red blocks while you do the blue blocks.” You can even make the challenge harder for a child in the early grades by saying, “I will be happy to help you after you have done one third of the work by yourself.” This gives a child the feeling you still care and offers a wonderful opportunity for you to have a discussion with your child about his or her school day or new friends he or she is making at school.
Want to learn more about Positive Discipline? Check out the schedule of classes at www.positivedisciplinect.org/parenting-classes/. If there isn’t one that meets your needs, email firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll do our best to meet your needs.
This article is written in conjunction by Carol Dores, certified trainer for Positive Discipline, and Anne E. Mead, M.Ed., mother and grandmother, administrator for Early Childhood Education, Danbury Public Schools.