Routine is a powerful thing, and when it comes to correcting our kids, it offers that sense of justice that kids so crave, but it also helps us keep our emotions out of it. Even in the face of anger, a solid correction routine will take over and keep us from losing our cool.
This post assumes that we’re not talking about Willful Disobedience, which we will deal with separately next week. Check back on Monday for a post on what it is and how to handle it. In the meantime, here’s a quick summary of the basic steps to a powerful correction routine.
- 1. Name the misbehavior
- 2. Give a reminder
- 3. Three Question Correction
- 4. Restore & Empower
- 5. Choose a Training Tool
Name the Misbehavior
Start by getting down on your child’s level, looking them square in the eye, and using a calm, low tone voice to say, “You are disobeying me.” If the child is arguing, say, “You are arguing with me.” If they’re complaining, say, “You are complaining.”
For the most part, misbehavior is going to fall under one of the following labels:
- Having a Bad Attitude
When a child misbehaves, don’t try to distract him. For example, when telling your five-year-old it’s time to leave the playground and she drops to the ground and screams, “NOOO!!!” don’t distract her by telling her all the fun things you are going to do after you leave (we’re going to McDonald’s, and when daddy comes home, we’re going to watch your favorite movie). This doesn’t protect her self-esteem as some modern, misguided therapists suggest. It endorses poor behavior by ignoring it.
If you tell your son to begin doing his homework, and he says, “But I never get to play this game. I’ll do it when the game is over,” name the misbehavior: “You are arguing. Would you like to try that again?”
Give a Reminder
Which brings us to the next step: Give a Reminder. Everyone needs a reminder from time to time. Once you’ve named the misbehavior, you can ask, “Would you like to try that again?”
If they adjust their behavior, great! Your job is done. If not, they might be venturing in Willful Disobedience, which we’ll cover on Monday of next week.
Three Question Correction
Sometimes the misbehavior happens before you ever had a chance to give them another chance. They already hurt someone else’s feelings or their carelessness caused something to get broken or their procrastination caused them to run out of time to finish their homework.
In most situations, you can use the Three Question Correction to help them recognize and take responsibility for their choice and think through ways to prevent it from happening again.
Here are the three questions:
- 1. What did you do that was wrong? Never ask “why did you do that?” it only gives kids platform to defend wrong behavior.
- 2. Why is that wrong?
- 3. What could you have done differently?
You might have to help them think these through and even offer suggestions if they get stumped.
Restore and Empower
End every correction routine (usually following the 3-question correction) with affection (hugs and kisses) and an assurance that you have completely forgiven them and believe they will learn and grow and make a better choice next time.
Say, “I discipline you because I love you, and I want God’s best for your life. I know that God rewards obedience, so I want to help you learn to be obedient. You are going to soar like an eagle!”
Then send them off with a light heart so they can try again.
Choose a Training Tool
First and foremost, the child might need to take restoration steps: apologize to the person they hurt using the 6 A’s of Apology, pick up a chair they knocked over in anger, clean up a mess they made, etc.
After that, you may need to choose a training tool to help correct their behavior and learn and grow from it. Check back next week. We’re going to talk about Natural Consequences, Negative Reinforcement Tools, Positive Reinforcement Tools, Preventative Measures and Corrective Conversations.