Easy Discipline

The middle of the week and Day Three of Back to Basics Week is here. I’m so glad you’re back to visit again. If this is the first time you’ve stopped by this week, you may want to read my posts from Monday and Tuesday.

Today I’m sharing about our family’s new, streamlined approach to discipline. The key to keeping everything simple is letting our Family Mission Statement do the work for us. You HAVE created a family mission statement, right?

Just like they need chores, kids need consistency when it comes to discipline, too. While I have always tried to be consistent, I made it so hard on myself. There were consequences that went along with broken rules, others for not following through on chores, more for being rude to siblings, and still others for not accepting no for an answer and arguing.

It was so difficult for Brian and I to remember what we had said would happen when, that we’d either give up and the kids would get away with whatever bad habit we were trying to break, or we’d throw out whatever punishment came to mind first. This was usually followed by a stream of “not fair” or ” that doesn’t even make sense.”

And, you know what, they were right. It wasn’t fair, and it didn’t make sense.

So, it was back to the drawing board, and back to the family meeting area — the kitchen table. As we’re reshaping the family, Brian and I think it’s important to have everyone be a part of any discussions regarding change.

Here’s what we did:

  • We reviewed our Family Mission Statement and the chores each of us are expected to attend to on a daily and weekly basis.
  • Next, we went over the virtue list {from We Choose Virtues} at the end of our Mission Statement and talked about what each of those does and doesn’t look like.
  • Then, we discussed the words consequence and discipline. Too many kids think both are bad. We explained, though, every action causes a consequence — good or bad. 
    • When we choose to act in a kind and just way, good things happen to us.
    • When we disobey or choose not to follow through with something, bad things happen.
    • And discipline is just the act of making yourself follow through in the correct manner.
    • I show discipline when I get up in the morning, make breakfast, and get things ready for our day. When I don’t show that I’m disciplined, I sleep in, don’t have food ready for breakfast and am behind, rushing, and frustrated throughout the day.

While we talked about both positive and negative consequences, we stuck with deciding the negative ones for this meeting. We decided to keep negative consequences consistent, concrete, and simple. We havethreethat apply to all infractions — disobedience, unkindness, not completing chores, and refusing to accept no for an answer.

Extra Chore

This applies to most situations: anytime there is attitude, back talk, unkind words, whatever falls into the category of negative behavior, the kids choose to earn an extra chore. We are really careful to use those words, too. A correction might sound like this:

I noticed that you pushed your sister out of your way instead of asking her to move or saying excuse me. Does that fit with our family’s mission of spreading love and kindness? No, well, unfortunately you’ve chosen to earn an extra chore for that behavior, please go vacuum the living room rug.

Since we can’t always come up with chores on the fly {though the Lord knows the house is never so clean there’s not something that can be done}, we brainstormed all the things that need done that we tend to run out of time for: vacuuming, various bathroom cleaning tasks, dusting, washing down baseboards, cleaning door knobs, windows, mirrors, etc. They are written on popsicle sticks and kept in a mason jar in the kitchen — just in case we need some inspiration. 

Major Cleaning Task

When one of my kids decides that they want to push the boundaries a bit and refuse to accept their consequence by arguing, complaining, slamming doors, etc., they choose to earn a major task. While extra chores are typically things the kids don’t mind doing and take very little time, a major cleaning task will interrupt their day. 

This will typically be a job that requires specific directions and regular check-in from Mom and Dad. Entire rooms get straightened, dusted, vacuumed, and the windows are washed. The car might be cleaned out and vacuumed or the kitchen floor might get swept, mopped, and dried.


24 Hours of Lost Privileges

If one of the kids is still refusing to accept a consequence by not doing their chore or task, crying, throwing a tantrum, or refusing to allow him or herself to move on, our most severe consequence is earned.

For 24 hours, from the time they were able to finally bring themselves under control, they are not allowed any privileges. These include playing with friends, watching TV, playing video games, enjoying dessert, or any special events that are happening during that time period.

During this time they are only allowed to help Mom and Dad with whatever odd jobs need done or run errands.


So you don’t think we’re completely barbaric and routinely strip our kids of all the fun they want to have in life, know that they rarely get to the second consequence, let alone the third.

Now that we have our Mission Statement in place, and use it to correct the behavior, we are not entering into any power struggles. 

It’s simple: This is how we agreed to behave as a family, what you were choosing to do doesn’t fit that, so you’ve earned an extra chore to make it up to the family. 

Every once in awhile, one or more of the kids needs to test and see if Brian and I are going to blow up and yell at them, and they’ll push back until a major cleaning task is earned. That’s usually as far as it will go, though.

Only once has any of our kiddos pushed to see if we really meant the 24-thing. As we did, and we followed through, all of the kids now know what that’s like and have chosen never to earn that one again. I doubt the trust in our follow-through will last forever, and we’re likely to be hanging out at home while missing a birthday party again someday.

Honestly, choosing to revamp how we do things, discipline-wise, and relying on our Mission Statement to pave the way has really taken a huge weight off of us as parents. It’s not us against them anymore.

It’s us, a family unit, and the kids agree.

Life is so much more peaceful when you are all in it together.

What do you do to help your kids understand that there are consequences for their behavior? Do you make things complicated like I used to? Or have you streamlined, too?

If you have time, share your thoughts. The topic of discipline and consequences is always tough and controversial. I’m interested in learning what works for you — even if it isn’t what we do. Join the conversation in the comment section below, on Facebook, or Twitter. Better yet, subscribe to Raising Lifelong Learners so you don’t miss an idea.