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8 Ways To Discipline Your Child (Or Not)

Having trouble disciplining your child? Our hilarious resident Dad, Pat Fitzpatrick, takes a tongue in cheek look at some options that are socially acceptable.
 

And some that are not.

1. Time Out

Here’s the thing. It isn’t a Time Out if they follow you around the house shouting “But I don’t want to sit at the bottom of the stairs.” The trick is to get them to stay put. I know what you’re thinking. But a set of restraints in the front room will only give the wrong impression. Particularly to those people who can’t resist saying, “I see the arrival of the kids has done nothing to dampen your sex life.” (Seriously?) Your only option is to keep a cot on the go until the youngest child reaches five. It’s like a prison, without the barbed wire. Try and resist the temptation to put barbed wire on the edge if they escape during timeouts. It’s just not a great look.

2. Reward Charts

You know the ones where you put a sticker up for good behaviour, with the promise of a treat when the chart is full of them. A lot of parents use them for potty training. A word of advice here. Don’t make the treat too good. Otherwise your toddler will move into the jacks full-time, sitting there purple-faced trying to push something out. It can be a bit off-putting when you are having a shower.

3. Shouting

Why shouldn’t you shout at your kids? They shout at you, all the time. In fact, not shouting at your kids now and again is bad for everyone involved. You’ll just store up the anger and end up shouting at your partner, who will move to Madrid with the au pair. Your child will end up traumatised the first time someone shouts at her for real and will probably end up suing you when she’s 21. (That’s the way the world is going now.) So shout away like mad and curse if you like. It’s so cute the first time your child uses the F-word. Your heart is ready to burst open with pride. Aaaw look, she’s just like me.

4. You have until 5

We’ve all been there. “If you don’t come over here before I count to five, I’m going to leave you here in this playground/shop/place you didn’t seem to really enjoy but now you don’t want to leave, I should have listened to my sister and never had kids.” There seems to be a notion out there that the child will come running, even though this has never actually happened in real life. What actually happens is you get to five and then walk towards them like an eejit. This is where they start to run away and it becomes clear why you shouldn’t have waited until your mid-30s to have a child. The only way to get a child to leave a playground is to sneak up behind them and bribe them with a lollipop. Anything else will result in tears. And a sore hip.

5. Electronics Ban

The good news is that banning access to phones, tablets and games consoles is one of the most effective deterrents you can use on a brazen child. The bad news is your child will have no idea how to entertain themselves and will follow you around for the duration of the ban. Who knew that someone could repeat ‘I’m bored’ for four hours in a row. Not you, because you locked them in their room for the duration of the ban. Come on, it’s punishment. You’re allowed to be a little cruel.

6. Tidy Up

Your children aren’t always going to wreck your house. It turns out they take a break between the ages of 4 and 16, at which point they start having parties behind your back. (It’s not like you didn’t do it yourself.) Anyway, the threat of getting them to tidy up their mess would be a useful way to keep the under-4s on-side. If you had the patience to watch them trying to get four pieces of Lego into a box. Which you don’t’, because three hours is a long time. So steer clear of the tidy up threat. Because the child knows what it means. “Stop that now or I’ll force you to sit there while I tidy up the house because you are really good at pretending to day-dream just to see if you can drive me mental.”

7. Food

There is a good chance you are already punishing your kids with food without realising it. You know, giving them kale smoothies just so you can look like Super Mom in front of your friends. But have you ever considered actively using food as a deterrent? “One more word out of you and we’ll be having boiled kidney stew for tea”, that sort of thing. Anyone who reckons that isn’t a deterrent never had boiled kidney stew for tea. Obviously your child will pretend to like this vomit on a plate, just to get on your wick. This is why I recommend a separate dinner for everyone else. Pizza, nuggets and a whole Vienetta per person. Now that’s what I call discipline.

8. Do as I what now?

Finally, it’s important that you set a good example for your child. Sorry about that. Here are a couple of skills you should develop in order to pass muster. 1: The ability to eat a Toffee Crisp whole in case your child walks into the room. 2: Use your internal voice when you are driving in case your child ends up thinking it’s ok to call someone a f****** **** ** ** just because they indicated slightly late. 3: Try not to laugh at your own farts, even if it’s a really, really funny one. (That one is for you, Dads.)

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About the Author

Pat Fitzpatrick lives in Cork city with his wife and two small kids. He gave up a decent job in I.T. in 2008 to head for the lucrative world of writing. So don't hire him as a life coach, investment advisor or anything to do with your career. His Sunday Independent newspaper columns have been entertaining Irish people through some tough times. Pat is a regular on the on the RTE Today show with Maura Derrane and Daithí O’Sé and pops up frequently on radio shows such as the Right Hook. All of this is a bit too much like hard work, so he has started writing novels which will hopefully fund an early retirement to a hammock in the back garden. His first novel, Keep Away from those Ferraris, is available online and in shops outlined here http://www.patfitzpatrick.ie/novels/. Pat’s kids are both under two, so if you don’t mind, he is now going for a quick lie down.

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