When I took Psychology 101 way back in the day, one thing that stuck with me was that positive reinforcement always works better than negative. I agree with that, but with a caveat when we are talking about single dad discipline strategies.
As kids get older, by nature they WANT to push boundaries. How far can they venture from the house alone? How late can they stay up? How long can they hold their breath when swimming in the pool?
As a parent creating single dad discipline strategies you walk the fine line between letting them push boundaries of all types, while making sure they are:
- Staying healthy and safe
- Behaving in a way that is productive and respectful
That second one is why there are times you need to may use a more “negative” approach to parenting. That does not mean yelling and screaming or throwing things around the house.
It means being firm in your response, your tone of voice, and in your expectations of your kids. Ultimately your single dad discipline strategy should be created so that results are up to, and the responsibility, of your kids to behave properly with consequences, both good and bad, based on that behavior.
So how do you create effective single dad discipline strategies?
As a single dad, there is nothing more important than remaining simple and consistent. Your kids do not have the intellect, life experience, and common sense that you have.
When they learn to read they do not start by reading Shakespeare. When they start learning math they don’t try calculus. Make your rules, rewards, and expectations simple, clear, and direct.
Then YOU need to be consistent in how you implement those things. Just like working out, if you only do it every so often, you probably will not see much of a result.
So for example one of my favorite “sticks” in single dad discipline strategies is taking away electronics. Xbox, Playstation, iPad, and the like. You break the rules, you lose those for a set amount of time.
If the kids whine and moan about this:
Don’t cut the time they lose it just because you get frustrated and just give in, make the time longer!!
The point being, you need to be consistent but part of that is them understanding that negative behavior leads to negative consequences for them. This will, hopefully, lead them to deduce that positive behavior will lead to positive consequences for them.
This is the single most important principle for single dad discipline strategies:
Negative consequences are not a long-term solution, they are meant to drive kids to positive consequences for positive behavior.
There is no such thing as “perfect” when it comes to parenting. When creating single dad discipline strategies, the more consistent you are, the better your results should be.
Start with the positive for single dad discipline
So start with the positive behavior when creating single dad discipline strategies. This is, after all, the behavior you want.
- Do not make the positive reinforcement so over-the-top that it is not sustainable. “You made your bed, awesome now you get to go to Disneyland for a week!!”
- Do make it something that says enough that there is reason to want to get it. Make your bed, pick your own breakfast
- Do make it cumulative. So 10 great little things means one bigger treat-a toy for example.
- If you so choose, put a progress board up on the wall to see success and setbacks.
Here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
- Your praise should be enough reward. Don’t turn this into something that is unsustainable because the “rewards” are so big
- Do keep in mind that this is the behavior that SHOULD be happening. Do not make too big a deal of acceptable behavior. Cops don’t pull you over and give you $5 because you’re going the speed limit
- Don’t miss good behavior. Make sure it is rewarded EVERY time
- If it seems your rewards are not getting the proper reaction, discuss it with your child first, don’t just “up the ante” by default
The goal of your single dad discipline strategy is to ONLY give positive reinforcement since you hope you will only see positive behavior. Of course, this is unachievable but that is why it is the goal we are shooting for.
I want to be 6% body fat. Pretty much no chance I will get there but that is the goal.
Negatives with a good balance
Negative consequences need to be measured in any single dad discipline strategies. Enough to make the point and make it stick, but not so bad as to seem “punitive”.
I also try to constantly make the point that this is happening because of them, not because of me.
So as an example if my six-year-old talks back to me or ignores my instruction I will give him a warning and then tell him the consequence of repeating the behavior.
“Do not talk back to me. If you do it again you will lose your iPad for the rest of the day.”
If it does happen again, take the iPad and explain that they knew the consequences and they are losing the iPad because of what THEY did.
Strike the balance
Make the consequences measured when creating a single dad discipline strategy. I am not trying to “punish” my kids. I am trying to teach the lesson that certain behaviors are unacceptable.
If they do not engage in those behaviors, there will never be a problem. If they do and continue to do, they will continue to lose things they like.
This also highlights the point:
Make sure what you are doing will have some desired effect.
If your kids hate broccoli and your response to problem behavior is “you cannot have broccoli today” that probably is not going to do much and may have the opposite effect of what you desire.
Don’t do random with single dad discipline
This can be tough. Maybe you have had a hard day and something you would let roll off your back normally now really irks you.
The key to any single dad discipline strategy is that your KIDS understand. We already assume you will!
Some of the cardinal rules for the single dad discipline strategies:
- Be consistent. If an action warrants a response from you, do it every time
- Always err on the side of too much positive reinforcement, and not enough negative. Positive is our goal
- Wipe the slate. For the most part, I start each day with a clean slate. Yes behaviors do not change in a day, but do not “hold a grudge”
- Never yell, get physical or stomp around. We want to build good, constructive behavior, not traumatize.
- This is not set in stone. Single dad discipline strategies are ever-changing and evolving
This is so important I will say it again (and again):
There will be times it seems that things are not improving. They will.
There will be times your kids push your limits. Keep cool.
You may be fighting the tide with another parent that is not doing anything similar to what you are doing and has no interest in discussing this. You do not control that so stay the course with your plan for your kids.
So to sum up single dad discipline strategies
You are working towards healthy, happy, well-behaved kids that are inquisitive, outgoing, kind, motivated, and loving. This, by definition, means they will push. Keep cool, keep consistent, keep the good, and weed out the bad.
What about outside help?
Is a family therapist a good idea or a counselor at school? Of course, but make sure YOU are still taking the lead. Do not let someone else tell you how to parent. You are the one doing this 24/7 so make sure any help or suggestions fits into what works for you and make sure you truly understand and agree with what they are suggesting.