As any father knows, children have a tendency to bend the rules. Whether they managed to pull down all the pots and pans in the kitchen, stayed out far too late with the neighborhood kids or covered your living room wall in original artwork, these messes often fly in direct violation of your specific rules about playtime. In times like these, the disciplinary action lies on your shoulders.
However, many fathers find themselves unsure about the appropriate level of punishment. Go too soft on your kids, and they'll think they can get away with anything. But, if you're too harsh, they'll be more focused on the injustice of your response and may miss the lesson you're trying to teach.
To achieve the best results from a punishment, you need to ensure that the time fits the crime – a tough-but-fair policy that will highlight your children's errors so they can learn from them in the future. While tried-and-true methods like grounding or extra chores are often effective for basic misbehavior, you should also consider a few more creative penalties when the situation calls for it.
For example, many children – even those who aren't bullies – will enter into conflicts with their peers. Often, these conflicts can escalate to the point where parents must intervene. If your child happens to be the aggressor in this case, grounding or sending him or her to bed early doesn't underscore why that behavior was wrong. Instead, having your son or daughter publically apologize to the other child will require him or her to look at the situation from a different perspective.
If you can educate your children so that they can improve themselves and their behavior in future conflicts, then your punishment can get to the heart of the matter, rather than just treating the symptoms.
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