Monday, April 23, 2012

Parents Tool Kit

Take Away A Privilege

The question is: What do you consider to be a privilege as opposed to something everyone is entitled to? You may find it difficult to answer this question, and your partner may also have a different opinion. Most children who grow up in the developed word have a certain degree of entitlement issues simply because they are exposed to so much affluence on a daily basis. As a society we haven't quite figured out the answer to this question either, so it can be difficult for parents to implement this discipline method.

Let's face it, most parents would like to give their children everything they can. We love our kids and we want to see them happy, there's nothing wrong with that. However, there has to be some rules and a structure as a way for children to learn to become responsible, because happiness does not come without responsibility. Why? (Your children will ask.) Because human beings are interdependent, actually all life is interdependent, so we are responsible for and accountable for our actions toward one another, and toward all things.

If everyone were entitled to do whatever they want, whenever they want, with whatever they want, we would live in total chaos. So as a family we create rules for behavior, and a system for ensuring that appropriate behavior, responsibility & accountability is learned, so we can all get along well together and enjoy life. Unfortunately this is sometimes one of the hardest things to teach our kids, that they can't just have total freedom without responsibility. That's why I've taken the time to explain this concept a little, because taking away a privilege may seem logical to you, but your kids or your partner may need some help to understand the value of it.

Here are some quick tips on using this discipline method.

  • Parents need to be united on the rules and consequences
  • Have a discussion with your kids about what you believe are privileges, and let them know that these things can be "taken away" if they are irresponsible or behave badly.
  • Make sure your kids know what their responsibilities are, and the behavior you expect.
  • Create a reminder chart for responsibilities & chores that includes the time you expect them to be done by. 
  • Create a reminder list of privileges such as: watching TV,  computer time (non-homework), spending time with friends, using the car or being driven places, using or having a phone, etc.
  • Start early, the younger your kids are when they learn that they have a responsibility to behave well, and that they can lose privileges if they don't, the easier it will be as they get older. 
  • For young children, remind them of the behavior you expect (use a warning system like Magic 1-2-3), and the privilege you will take away if they misbehave.
Here's an example: I considered it a privilege for my children to go grocery shopping with me when they were young (regardless of whether I had no other choice but to take them). Before going into the store I would say, "You have to sit in the cart and don't fuss. If you fuss & whine or fight with each other we will leave immediately, which means we will only have toast for dinner". I only had to do this once and they knew I meant business.

Other examples: "If you have not done your homework, you can not play video games." "If you have not practiced your violin, you can not watch your favorite show." "If you have not cleaned your room, you can not go outside and play with your friends." 

Each family may have different ideas about responsibilities and privileges, schedules and so forth, but the basic principle is the same. A family is like a mini eco-system, what each person does or doesn't do affects the others, and the purpose of this method is not to be mean, but to teach responsibility and accountability.

Feel free to leave your comments below.

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