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What’s Your Discipline Plan?

Most parents of more than one child know that the best discipline tools for one child can be a disaster with another. Fair isn’t necessarily equal or the same! Perhaps one of your children is a pleaser—and any indication of disappointment on your part brings apology and a promise to do better. Perhaps another is a natural leader—and would like to start running your house right now, sure of several improvement ideas! A stern look might bring tears to the first and eye-rolling—or worse—in the other.

If you have one of the latter, avoiding major stand-offs is an art. My colleague Dr. Elizabeth Murphy, author of The Developing Child, recommends getting these children involved in their own discipline. Often, they’re Thinkers in the language of Kidtelligent—kids who think in terms of logic, if-then and cause-effect. Stay calm and use this language with them. Here are some examples.

  • When you teased your little sister, you disrupted our nice family dinnertime and that isn’t acceptable. What do you think the punishment should be? (Children are often tougher on themselves than you would be)
  • You haven’t cleaned the bathroom in the way we’ve taught you. Now you’ll need to take some of your free time to do it right. What’s your plan for making sure you do it right this time?
  • You were late coming downstairs for breakfast and now you’re telling me that you don’t have time to help with making your lunch. What’s your plan so this doesn’t happen again?

“What’s your plan?” indicates to these little leaders that you are involving them in solving problems and consider them mature enough to find solutions. You still get to define the problem itself, but rather than locking horns, you’re asking them to take responsibility.

Interestingly, Dr. Robert Green, author of The Explosive Child, recommends involving children with major behavior problems in planning how to avoid them. Not only will you help your child to think about getting different results, but it just might help them learn to independently come up with plans that decrease conflict and increase your trust in them!

By Jane Kise, Ed.D. – Educational Advisor and Consultant, 
Jane  writes an insightful post every Tuesday for Kidtelligent. Jane is an educational consultant, specializing in teambuilding, coaching, and school staff development. She is also the coauthor of more than 20 books. Jane’s website  is