Thursday, June 23, 2016

Ask - Tell - Yell - Electric Fence

A reader of  yesterday's article asked me to elaborate on my punishment model, so here it is.

Ask - Tell - Yell - Electric Fence 
The only reasons children do anything is because either A ) you taught them to do it, or B ) you allow them to do it. Children instinctively seek to push limits. This is so that they can learn what is and is not acceptable. When they learn this, they feel more secure.

Ask the child to comply with your request. Use the word "please." After all, it is a parent's job to teach a child how to function socially. Good manners is a part of that. Always start with this step, unless life or limb is hanging in the balance. Do not ask the child more than once. Make sure the child heard the request.

If a child refuses to comply, you must decide NOW what the next course of action  will be. If the request is of no major concern, then do it yourself or be satisfied that it will not be done. If the child needs to comply, then you must decide RIGHT FUCKING NOW that you are the parent, and that you are willing to take this issue farther than the child is willing to take it.

At the end of the day, you are the child's parent, not his friend. If he will not comply with your request, then tell him to comply. Do not use the word "please" (that just repeats the Ask step). Do not tell the child more than once. Make sure the child heard you.

At this point, very calmly announce to the child that this will result in an electric fence of he continues to push the issue. It's only fair warning. And it lets the child know that the physical punishment was not decided in anger.

You can repeat the verbage used in the Tell step here, just make sure that it is yelled at about 110 decibels. This lets the child know that you are serious and are willing to take this beyond whatever point they are willing to push you to. Also, this helps children with selective hearing.

Do not yell at the child more than once.

Do not skip to Yell unless life or limb are on the line, else the effect will be lost.

Electric Fence
Physical punishment. For me, it was a belt. For my kids... about the same. If handled correctly, using the above steps, you should rarely get here. Also, this could be grounding a child or taking away a precious item or freedom.

That said, if your disciplinary actions have been woefully inconsistent in the past, expect to spend a fair amount of time here until the child learns that the Tell step is simply their last chance to handle the issue with dignity.

Out of common courtesy, do not skip to the Electric Fence stage unless life or limb are on the line. Alternately, if a child has a recurring issue that has been addressed multiple times, advise the child that future infractions skip directly to the Electric Fence stage.

It is good practice to teach your child the basics about Ask-Tell-Yell-Electric Fence. Namely, the child should be familiar with the four stages. That way, you  an always help them save a little face by saying "are we going to take this to Electric Fence again?"

Sometimes, I'll just use the warning at the Ask phase. It saves trouble.

Sometimes, I'll tell my kids "now we've dealt with this issue twice before, so next time we just skip to Electric Fence."

If you say to yourself "but is this much punishment fitting of the infraction?" Ask yourself these two questions -
"Should I really just have backed off at the Ask phase?"
If so, back off now.
If not, ask:
"Is outright defiance three times worth this much punishment?"
If not, then there's no help for you. Your children will probably do better in state-run foster care. At least that way they might be less likely to be socially maladjusted.
If so, then the child has specifically requested this punishment. You owe it to her.

"Awarding" push ups is an acceptable alternative for Yell in many circumstances. Having to perform push ups for poor behavior in public can be extremely motivating for many children. Plus... if you get it wrong (hey, we aren't perfect, either),  then what, exactly, did it hurt?

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