You Know Disciplining is Necessary, but how do you Get Started?

You know you have to discipline.  But where do you start?  I’ll break it down into 3 steps:

1.  Adopt a calm demeanour (will elaborate on this below).  It doesn’t have to be who you are or what you’re feeling.  It’s just a demeanour.  If you’re stressed, yelling, losing it, the kids are going to focus on that, not rules or anything else.

2.  Pick just 1 rule and 1 consequence for every member of the family (refer to my “3 Step Parenting Plan” (below) for this.

3.  Follow through with the rule and consequence 100%.  If you mess up, start again and pick another rule and consequence.  

The point of this is to win one battle, just one.  Once you master that, the next ones get easier.

What are the best battles to start with?  The ones that are measurable and daily.  They could be bedtime, mealtime, etc.  

Let’s eIaborate on your calm demeanour.  It’s along the lines of “fake it till you make it”.  Once you start to see results with this new you, or this pretend new you, it will start to become genuine.

When I first started working with troubled teens I’d make the inside of my cheeks bleed chewing on them trying to stay calm.  I knew those kids were testing me but I’m still human.  I knew that the quickest path to getting positive results was always to stay calm under any circumstances.

I really lost it once with a troubled teen.  He was into cutting and had suicidal tendencies.  He said I may not see him the following week as he wasn’t sure he wanted to be around anymore.  I grabbed him and growled, “If you kill yourself I’ll kill you!”  He thought that was pretty funny and our sessions continued the following week.

I hope this helps,



Toss Out Time Out || Parenting Advice

If you are currently using timeouts and they’re working for you, then keep going.  Don’t fix what’s not broken.  But if you’re using them and they’re not working then keep reading.

I’ve never used timeouts nor have I ever taught them.  I see them as a form of avoidance, “You go sit over there as I don’t know what to do with you.”  I find them weak as they don’t really teach any lessons other than how to sit in a chair in the corner.

Here are 2 scenarios, one with timeout, one without:

With Timeout:  Johnny hits Sally with the TV remote because she changed the channel away from his favourite show.  Mom puts him on the naughty chair in the corner for 5 minutes (1 minute for each year of his life).  When the 5 minutes are up she tells him he can get up and has to apologize to Sally for hitting her.  There, done.  A couple of days later he hits Sally again and the process is repeated because Johnny has only been taught that being mean leads to punishment.  He hasn’t been taught how to be nice.  Saying sorry isn’t much of a lesson, it’s just empty words to most kids, and adults.  The real lesson is learning how to treat people well and act appropriately.

My Method:  Johnny hits Sally with the remote control.  Mom takes the remote control away from Johnny and gives it back to Sally telling her she can watch her show.  She then hugs Sally to make sure she’s okay.  She calmly says to Johnny, “Come with me.”  She takes Johnny into Sally’s room and says, “For the next 2 days you are going to make Sally’s bed to make up for hitting her.  When that’s done you can watch your favourite show again.”  Then she walks him back to Sally and explains that he’ll be making her bed and says, “Sally, if you tease him about making your bed, you’ll make his bed instead.  Everyone understand?”  Let’s assume they agree then Mom says, “Now, how about we all play a game?”  Johnny has learned it’s not okay to hit people and how to be nice to people.  He’s also learned that TV is a privilege not a right.  The game at the end is a bonding exercise.  It’s to reinforce good relationships instead of focusing on negative behaviour.

Once a child has been punished you have to let it go and move on in a positive way.  Too often I see parents reminding kids about how rotten they’ve been.  Ugh, what does that do to self-esteem?

Oh and by the way, if Johnny doesn’t make Sally’s bed his favourite show is not allowed.  It’s used not as punishment for being bad, but reward for being good.  It’s in line with my “as soon as method”.

If you want help with this, check out my Coaching Page.

Lisa Bunnage, Parenting Coach

Parents who buy good behavior

Do you try to buy good behavior?

on air radioDo you try to buy good behavior from your kids? This recent article was sent to me by Devon, producer at CKNW Radio, here in Vancouver. I’ll be discussing this topic on Mother’s Day at 4:30pm on air.

Devon thought the article was ridiculous but I assured her it’s very common for parents to bribe and buy their kids’ behavior. Of course you would never do that if you had better alternatives but if it works, then why not eh?!

I’ll tell you why not. Because that’s the fast lane to trouble down the road. It’s one of those things that doesn’t seem so bad in the moment, but will come back and bite you big time down the road. (That’s 2 traffic analogies in one paragraph … mental note to work on writing skills.)

There is nothing wrong with rewarding children but here’s the difference. Rewards come AFTER a job well done with no discussion beforehand. Bribes are done as bait beforehand. That money is payment, not a gift.

Use my “3 Step Parenting Plan” (free in Newsletter) as a guide on how to set up a system to get respect.  I’ve made some changes to it thanks to feedback from you so download it again to make sure you have the updated version.


I’m doing everything right, but it’s not working!

blocksIf you’ve been following my “3 Step Parenting Plan” (in Newsletter), staying calm, listening to your children and being consistent, but the kids still have no respect for you? It’s time to think about your own personal blocks.

Here’s a great example. A mom hired me for coaching after following me for months. She was doing everything I suggested in my blogs, newsletters, etc. and her kids were worse than ever. About 5 minutes into our video Skype session I had a feeling and asked, “How was your childhood?” She said, “Lousy, that’s why I’m afraid of messing up my own kids.” That was her block. Her fears came across in everything she said and did with the kids.

It took some work on her part to get past that block but once she did, she was great and the kids developed respect for her.

What’s holding you back from getting respect? Here are some common blocks I’ve witnessed:

  • embarrassment at how children behave in public
  • lack of consistency
  • spouse not supporting you
  • expecting the kids to just know how to behave
  • giving children what they want, not what they need
  • trying to be friends instead of parents
  • seesawing between being too lenient and too tough
  • not making time to have fun with the kids on their level
  • damaged over your own unhappy childhood

Find your blocks and move through them. You’ll see a big shift in your parenting and your children’s behaviour. I’d love to hear what your blocks are, and how you’re planning on moving through them.


Parents 5 New Year’s Resolutions

Here are my 5 New Year’s Resolutions for Parents:  (as discussed on Global Morning News at 8:40 on January 2, 2011):

  1. I will be a calm and controlled parent.Parenting is all about leadership and good leaders are calm and controlled as this instills confidence in those around them. If you lose it and yell and scream at your kids you may instill fear in them, but that’s not effective leadership, it’s the opposite. This approach will usually come back to haunt you when they are teenagers and they decide to rebel as fear only works when they’re little. 
  2. I will listen to my children. Listening is the #1 parenting skill. Effective listening is all about listening to understand and respect the other person’s views. Parents often get caught in the trap of listening to gain information to lecture with which leads to your children not wanting to confide in you. 
  3. I will teach my children how to self-discipline themselves.You teach them how to self-discipline themselves by disciplining them when they’re growing up. Discipline is often thought of as punishment. Yes, there can be some punishment involved but it’s really just about consequences: good choices = good results / bad choices = bad results. A good example of this is if your son hits your daughter, he then has to make her bed for a week. He made a bad choice and is now getting bad results. The bonus is that the victim gets out of doing a chore for a week … even better. 
  4. I will teach my children how to earn what they receive.Make your children work for fun. If they want to go to the park, say, “Sure, just as soon as you clean up your room, off to the park we go.” As they’re growing up and they want a cell phone, make them do extra chores around the house to earn it, work out a schedule that you all agree on. This teaches them that they don’t get everything handed to them in life and gets them better prepared for the real world. Day-to-day chores are also necessary … but make sure they’re age appropriate. Even a 2 year old can help you put toys away. Not fair to ask them to do it themselves, but make it a team effort. 
  5. I will get respect by showing respect. You show respect by doing all of the above which, in turns, leads to you being respected. Consistency is the key as if you’re only doing the above during the week then it’s a free-for-all on weekends, you lose respect.

Lisa Bunnage, Parenting Coach / Email: