TribLIVE

| Lifestyles

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Living with Children: One discipline problem at a time

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By John Rosemond
Monday, April 15, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

One of the reasons — it's probably in the top three reasons, in fact — that parents fail at solving discipline problems is they try to solve too many at once. In so doing, they scatter their disciplinary energy too thinly and end up solving none. The only thing they accomplish is getting more frustrated and more convinced that there is something about their child that renders discipline ineffective — a gene perhaps, inherited from the father (who else?), that causes a biochemical imbalance.

If a corporation manufactures 10 products that are all losing money, its managers do not try to rehabilitate all 10 products at once. Instead, they focus their marketing energy and dollars on one. They are fairly certain that the renewed success of that one item will have a positive effect on the other nine. And they're right! Shortly after bingobangos begin showing a profit, whatchamas and humperdoos begin operating in the black, as well. Pretty soon, all 10 products are doing well. Mind you, if management had tried to jump-start all 10 at once, the corporation would have gone bankrupt.

And so it is when dealing with discipline problems. No matter how many there are, pick one — it doesn't really matter which one — and deal with it in a very organized way. When you have solved that one problem, you will almost surely notice that one or two other problems have spontaneously vanished. I call it “disciplinary math.” If you start with 10 discipline problems — tantrums, disobedience, disrespect, teasing the dog, leaving clothes all over the house and so on — and you solve one, you are likely to find that you only have seven problems left. Solve one of those and you have only four left. Four problems minus one is one and that goes the way of the other nine as soon as your child sees you focusing on it. During this process, which may take several months from start to finish (time well spent), just muddle through the problems you haven't yet targeted. Their day will come.

I once consulted with a couple whose early-elementary-age son was giving them fits. In addition to speaking disrespectfully, ignoring instructions and interrupting conversations, he was not getting ready for school on time in the morning. The parents took turns haranguing, hectoring and hassling until he was finally ready to leave the house. Because their day almost always got off on the wrong foot, they were eager to solve that problem. Instead, I helped them develop an organized approach to the disrespectful statements that flew out of his mouth whenever things didn't go his way.

A few weeks later, the parents told me that the disrespect had all but completely stopped. Oh, and by the way, their son was getting ready to leave for school in the morning without being harangued and so on. And other problems were showing improvement as well!

“Disciplinary math” may defy the rules of arithmetic, but it works!

Family psychologist John Rosemond answers parents' questions on his website at www.rosemond.com.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Rossi: Looking at the next great Steeler
  2. Steelers swap draft pick for Eagles cornerback
  3. After early criticism, Haley has Steelers offense poised to be even better
  4. McCullers’, McLendon’s prowess in clogging trenches crucial to Steelers defense
  5. Reds solve Cole, stave off Pirates’ 9th-inning rally
  6. Penguins not alone in top-heavy approach to salary cap
  7. Roman Catholic Church in midst of culture clash over gays
  8. Shell shovels millions into proposed Beaver County plant site
  9. High school notebook: Baseball standouts showcase their skills for pro scouts
  10. Steelers notebook: Injuries finally become issue at training camp
  11. Pirates notebook: New acquisition Happ more than happy to fill spot in rotation