Monday, July 14, 2008

Do you carry out your threats?

Another item inspired by the comic strip, “For Better or For Worse” by Lynn Johnston.

In this one the mother says to her son, “If you’re rude to me once more you’ll go to your room for the rest of the day – and no supper!” To which he gives her a loud raspberry, and immediately gets sent packing to his room. Then you see mum lamenting, ”They always make you carry out the treats you wish you hadn’t made.”

Forgetting for the moment that sometimes “drastic Punishment” like this is sometimes needed to get your point across and to stop further misbehaviour that might need stronger correction, I want us to focus on both how careful we are in making threats (or promises), and then on how thorough we are in our follow up on them.

Do we like the mum above, carry through and carry out the prescribed punishment, even if we wished we hadn’t made it? Or do we cave in and make our future words nothing more than empty threats that others can feel safe in ignoring, knowing how soft we were before?

I am not advocating harsh punishments here, but rather advocating that you assess and evaluate each child or Person separately and, knowing what does and doesn’t work for them tailor your disciplinary measures accordingly.

We had/have three Kids (adults now) and each one needed to be disciplined differently, as what worked for one, just didn’t for the others and so for a while it was trail and error until we found out what did and didn’t work for each one. However the important thing we learnt was not what the discipline was but that each child knew that if you made a certain threat, then they also knew that you would carry it out, if they pushed the boundaries after being warned.

So if you feel your warnings are not being obeyed like they should, then you need first to assess your methods of rewards and punishment to fit each separate individual. And then you need to be both economical with your warnings and immediately put them into effect when they are ignored. Done properly and with thought, this disciplinary action should not have to be implemented as often as you would think.

The important thing is to set acceptable boundaries and punishments when broken and then to immediately implement them so that all parties will see that you are serious and all parties will know where they stand. Again, what is said about threats/ punishments also holds true for rewards and promises too. If made they should all be carried out ASAP, when necessary.

What I have said about Children, will in principle, work with adults too. We all need both, Boundaries, and to know that these boundaries are unbreakable. What say you?

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