I’ve got great kids. You’ve got even better kids. You know so because they are yours, and yours arealways better than everyone else’s, so we will just agree that your kids are awesome. Amazing. Super-stars. Fantastic. Fabulous. I know, I know. I’ve seen them around town. But, something occasionally goes wrong. We’ll call it a glitch. Between the ages of 8 and 13, a Tween’s brain is bathed in hormones, rewiring their systems and occasionally causing a “glitch” in their behavior. I know it’s a rare occasion, but when your tween has this occasional glitch, what do you do about it?
I’m talking about the usual, expected kind of bad behavior a tween might want to succumb to. Lying, back-talking, eye-rolling, stealing your expensive Ugg boots for the day – hoping you wouldn’t notice… that kind of thing.
We try to avoid the word “punishment” at our house. We like to refer to it as a “consequence.” We try to teach our kids that every behavior, good or bad, has a consequence. The power is in their hands to make the choices they want to make about their behavior. Good behavior will earn a good consequence; negative behavior will earn a negative consequence.
There are a few different types of consequences we normally use at our house. The most difficult part of parenting I think is constantly adapting to the changes that are happening in the lives of our kids. One consequence may not have the same effect on a child from day to day, so we are constantly in a state of flux. Nothing is set in stone, and the consequences vary from kid to kid and from day to day. Here are some of the most effective ones we are using right now:
The offender loses money out of their weekly allowance.
A Big No To All Things Tech
No iPod. No computer. No games on Mom’s Kindle Fire or Dad’s iPad.
At least that’s what our girls call it when they are grounded. Pretty much grounding in our house means no friends over, no going to a friend’s house or anywhere with friends other than school and church for their youth group.
If one child decides they have better things to do than clean their own room or do the assigned chores for that day, we pay a sibling (usually our youngest, most enthusiastic chore-snatcher) to do the chore because it needs to be done. The amount of money it cost us to pay the chore-snatcher gets taken out of the offenders allowance.
This is probably the least favorite of all the consequences among the Wegner girls. When there are serious infractions between two or more members of our family that cannot be worked out by simply talking it through, they are put in a room together until they can come out friends. The rules are that they cannot inflict any kind of physical pain on each other, but they can say whatever they want. They must come out friends or they can’t come out.
While some of my more sarcastic Facebook friends suggested water boarding, duct taping them to the wall, and turning the crawl space into their bedroom, I think the following parents had some creative ideas that really worked to accomplish the goal of great behavior:
Love and logic teaches to let them learn by the natural consequences of their choices. ~Michelle Brown
My mom often took away internet and TV until whatever it was that got me in trouble was fixed. ~Aleyna Speicher
Each kid gets an allowance, amount based on the amount of chores assigned and age appropriate. For each incident, a percentage of the allowance is taken away. If they want their full amount at the end of the week, they need to do extra chores. We keep track on laminated cards with a dry erase marker. ~Shane Sexton
Taking away privileges and the use of love and logic is (so far) working for my tween – when she is ready to listen, that is! ~Beth Krooswyk
I make my boys hold hands! It’s torture! ~Sarah Osborne-Johnson
Discipline them softly. Wait a few years, and they will be just fine. I raised a girl, and she turned out perfect. ~Mike Lanting (My Dad)
We are trying to raise three independent, strong-minded, spirited girls. We intentionally challenge them to assert themselves in situations they feel strongly about. There is a fuzzy line somewhere between “good” independent, strong-minded and spirited, and “bad” independent and spirited. Our job as parents is to help our girls see that line and know when they are getting too close to the other side where they really don’t want to go.
Parenting is tough, but when both you and your child know what to expect when it comes to consequences, a lot of unnecessary anger is alleviated in the moment of frustration. Be creative, have fun, and keep raising such awesome kids!
This article was published in the April 2012 edition of The Family Magazine of Michiana