no-iphone

Tip: Why Make Discipline Painful?

Like many parental practices, discipline is one of those where you setup core principles, but also have to adapt as your children grow older.  For instance, physical discipline is off-limits in favor of time outs and taking treasured toys away.

While these are still the primary forms of discipline, I’m also now forced to recognize that I’m raising a pre-teen.  Holden (my oldest son) is about to become 13 years old. While excited for him, I’m already counting down the days before I’ll be sitting in the passenger seat of a car with him, or meeting his first date.  Yes, I’m white-knuckled terrified, but I digress.  The traditional forms of punishment are quickly becoming archaic in our lives.

Instead, when I need to discipline, I think of three primary objectives .. yes, I actually think about these and do not just throw out some canned punishment, like taking his phone away:

  • Take a breath – Despite feeling frustrated, never discipline feeling that way.  Take a deep breath.  These are kids .. they laugh, they smile, and they sometimes push those buttons so well.
  • Be original – Try to think of a creative way to make a point to not rely on the same punishments.  This can actually be a little mental game of making the point in an unexpected way.  This is really at the core.  I try to think of punishments which may actually make the child think, or even make them feel involved, so they can internalize what they’ve done.
  • Keep to your guns – When thinking of how to discipline, be ready to completely follow though.  If you’re going to take something away for weeks, be ready to follow through.  Despite approaching discipline from a good place, it still needs to be centered in authority.

One example of a creative punishment that came to mind was during a walk through the grocery store.  The kids had not had as much sleep as they usually get the night before.  Archer was out of sorts while Holden was obsessed with his phone occasionally popping out like a little prairie dog to poke at his younger brother.  After a couple times of asking Holden to stop, I decided it was time for one of those wonderfully satisfying parental moments.  I had Holden hand his phone to me, and then went on to give it to his brother.  I went on to tell him that he’d get it back when Archer felt like it, so it may be worthwhile to be nice to his little brother.  Both children smiled about it, Archer snapped out of his mood, and both of them got along better for the remainder of the day.  No tears, no yelling, and better behavior. Win, win, win!

To be fair, I also don’t come up with all of the punishments.  When they complain about their punishments, I leverage one other tactic which helps the situation.  Both boys have a voice in their punishment.  This may sound absurd; however, it actually helps them switch roles to understand why they’re being punished.  Oftentimes, this is as simple as explaining my point of view, then asking “If you were me, what should I do?“.  Ironically, most of the time, they give a punishment that is even more harsh and are willing to follow through.  By the way, I rarely hold them to their own punishments, but it does help them understand.

 

Until next time, happy fun parenting!

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Tip: Productive vs Fun vs Both

This week, I have the boys once again for summer vacation.  The last time they were here, we instituted a new policy while I worked.  Like most parents, I frown upon overindulging in video games when they are with me.  As such, we now have the policy of thirty minutes of “fun time” for thirty minutes of “productive time”.

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The Con

I could say that our balancing act is that written up in books, but really, I’m leveraging what is probably best described as “strategic manipulation”.  This could also be described as the con, or loosely as Jedi mind tricks.

1. The Bait

“Fun time” is anything goes.  The kids are able to play Minecraft, dork around on their iPad/iPhone, watch TV, or anything that they wish.  This is so enticing that the kids fall for it each time.  They will do anything to feed that little Dopamine release in their brains.

2. The Price

“Productive time” is defined as anything that is not video games, movies, or TV.  In our world, this includes:

  • Board games
  • Piano practice
  • Reading
  • Coloring
  • Activity Kits (like Kiwi Crate – picture above)
  • Mindstorms
  • Chess via ChessKid or Chess.com
  • Believe it not, baths and teeth brushing

Basically, they have a lot of flexibility as long as the kids are working their brain, their hands, and, fingers crossed, interacting with one another.  Please note, this is not without effort on the parent’s part.  I make specific trips and perform research to find new and interesting things to keep the kids involved.

3. The Switch

This is the critical step.  The “productive time” needs to be interesting enough to the kids that the lines between “productive time” and “fun time” blur.  Once they’re having fun with the productive time, then they stop needing video games for that Dopamine release.  This does take time and does take involvement, but is critical.  You cannot just hit up Michael’s for some crayon or buy some board games, and go about your email or cleaning house.

4. The Payoff

Now, that we’re two weeks into this mode of operating, I can say that the kids are having more fun, they’re interested more than ever in trying new things, and getting along better.  They actually spend more time wanting to do those productive things than video games.  While they had previously argued and competed doing video games, they now try to work together when playing video games.

Is everything peaceful?  Not by a long shot.  I have a 7 and 12 year old, but I’m proud of my boys that they are now seeking out fun in new ways and working together more.

 

Be sure to look for our review of Kiwi Crate coming soon.

Until then, happy fun parenting!

A New Stereotype

We’ve all heard it some time in our lives “she (or he) is the fun parent“.  It usually leaves an impression that they aren’t doing their parental duties, or maybe they’re too busy being a friend to their children than a parent.  These are the labels that the “fun parent” carries with them.

About a year ago, I found myself welcomed into one of the most painful brotherhoods for a loving dad .. “divorced fatherhood”.  Being a parent when married is completely different than being one when you’re single.  When you’re married, both parents tend to complement one another and balance is found in some way.  When divorced with kids, you start off with everybody saying that you shouldn’t be the “fun parent” and all the while trying your best to fill the needs to children (and yours as well).  The kids need a “real parent”, right?

Fast forward to current time, I’ve learned many things along the way.  The most important thing is that you can actually instill generational values, teach boundaries, get homework done, shop for clothes, cook dinner, and have FUN doing it.  Whether finding ways to teach kids a lesson in keeping calm, founding new traditions, or turning vacations into fun, educational getaways, there is fun to be had everywhere .. both in fun activities, but also in the parenting itself.

I’m starting this blog as a way to share those ideas, tips, review products/activities/places, and have fun with it.  My story is personal with probably some unique and shared circumstances.  Regardless, this site is for you if you believe parenting should be fun, and want to embrace a new stereotype for “the fun parent”.

There will be many posts to come.  Also, please follow on Facebook and Twitter.  If you have content you’d like to add, reach out to me to become a writer for the site.

Thank you and have fun parenting!