Did you know that in Norway it’s against the law to spank your child? Not long ago, I had a Norwegian mom in my home and I asked her what she thought of the law. She seemed to think it was reasonable and normal – nothing to spark controversy.
Whether or not you support corporal punishment, I think we can all learn something from the Norwegians. Parenting is a complex job, requiring much more than one disciplinary method. Not only do we need many different approaches for rearing children, but our methods may need to change from day to day and from one child to the next. The threat of spanking can be a bad habit we fall back on instead of making more thoughtful and appropriate responses.
When I am truly honest about my habits, my biggest obstacle to consistent and effective child discipline is often my own convenience. It’s not convenient for me to stop making dinner to referee a fight, so I holler verbal threats into the next room. It’s not convenient to leave the cart in the grocery store and walk out with my tantrum-throwing child, so I bribe her with the promise of a treat. It’s not convenient to give my child a stern talking-to in front of friends at church, so I shoot him the stink-eye instead.
Now, I’m not saying a good glare isn’t called for once in a while, but wise, sensitive discipline is really about reading a situation correctly and then tailoring my response to my child’s needs, not my own agenda of the moment (full disclosure: all four of my kids have been spanked). What’s more, from the long-term view, doesn’t my agenda include raising well-mannered, virtuous children?
So what are some creative discipline methods we’ve used?
One of my recent favorites is the joint-time-out for siblings who aren’t getting along. I want them to learn to work out their differences on their own, and time and space together give them an opportunity to do so. When they are angry with each other but haven’t been physical, sometimes I’ll have them hold hands, standing face to face for a few minutes. Frequently, this gives them the giggles and soon all is well.
However, if they are getting violent, another option is to sit them down in chairs facing each other. I set the timer and they have to stay seated. Having someone to talk to is so much better than the boredom of silence, so they often end up buddies again by the time the timer sounds.
How about you, what are your creative discipline tips that work in your home? Have you picked up tips from your mom’s group, or come up with ones on your own? The more we share with each other, the bigger our pool of strategies becomes, and the more options we’ll have for effective parenting. That’s something parents from every country can agree on!
image via flickr: Burwash Calligrapher