Correcting Misbehavior – At Home and Out

I recently wrote about how I really “don’t like loud” – raised voices that is.  But we all know our kids test us in many ways which makes even the most calm, serene, tranquil of us ‘lose it’ from time to time.  Take our daughter Careena (almost 3 – going on 16).  As intelligent and ‘advanced’ as she is (I know all parents think their kid is advanced…but ours really is 😉 – yet another future blog), she apparently forgets the meanings of “no,” “stop,” and “be nice to your sister” every now and then.  So after the stern (and ever so slightly raised) voice telling her these things, we sometimes have to resort to punishing her for not listening.

Something Heather and I feel pretty strongly about is that you really don’t need to be physical with your children – especially younger ones.  Now I won’t say that there is no chance of either of us ever ‘spanking’ our kids, but I think there is a limit that some parents exceed.  There have been many times when we have been in stores or malls and witnessed parents being too physical with their children and yes, we actually have said something or at least approached them so they knew their actions were being observed.  We simply don’t think it is necessary or right.  It is far too easy for a grown adult to forget how much stronger they are than the child.

So we have adopted a couple of methods to correct Careena’s behavior for when we are home or out in public.  At home, we found the “time-out” method to be most effective.  When we are out and about, we have found that denying her something she wants – like going to Target (seriously!) or a certain snack in the car gets the point across.

At home we are probably the most comfortable – as most people – dealing with any misbehavior.  When those moments come, we simply place Careena in the “Time-out Chair” (Dad’s lounge chair) without any toys and explain what she did wrong. We tell her what she did, how long she will be in the time out, and what she has to do to get down.  It usually includes an apology to whoever is appropriate – her Mom for not doing what she was told, or her sister for not sharing or playing nicely, etc.  This has proven to be fairly effective so far…


When we are out, a time-out isn’t really an option.  But leveraging what is important to Careena has proven to work in those situations.  She has an OBSESSION with Target – inherited from her Mother – and she will literally ask to go there daily.  So simply telling her we’re not going to go due to her bad behavior really does immediately get her attention.  When that isn’t working or not an option, we don’t allow her to have the snack she wanted, or the toy or movie she wanted in the car.

Those methods usually work fairly well with Careena.  She often even apologizes without being told or reminded.  But they don’t always work and we find ourselves going over the same statements and reminders trying to get her to understand.  I guess you can only expect so much from a 3 year old.

As far as Hailee goes, we are still feeling our way back through that young of an age.  It seems harder now to know what is most appropriate.  I mean Careena acts so much older than she is in many ways, and combined with Hailee truly “acting her age,” we forget we actually have two little girls that are 3 and under.  You see Hailee’s behavior seems appropriate to us and correcting her, par for the course.  But the fact that Careena is acting – well, her age – seems to slip right by us.  We just expect so much more from her.  And as much as Heather and I acknowledge that possibility afterwards, we fall right back into the same frame of mind.  Did we treat Careena differently when she was younger?  Even though they are only about 20 months apart, it seems like so long ago in many ways.

For now I think we will just stick to our “time outs” and leveraging the little things while we still can.  I do think those are good methods, but then again, that’s just…

This Dad’s View.

How do you deal with discipline or correcting bad behavior? Do you have different methods for different aged children in your home?


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