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You Can Laugh At Discipline Worries If You Follow This Simple Plan

Aug 17, 2007
I've been waiting for this day for 16 months. I heard about this brilliant parenting consequence at a PTA seminar and have been waiting for the right time to use it...the time is now!

After my eleven-year-old son left for school this morning, I began removing his bedroom door from its hinges. I can't wait to again discuss the matter of last night's door slamming with a calm, cheshire cat smile on my face. As we discuss that doors are for closing and providing privacy and they are not exclamation points at the end of a testosterone tirade.

I like to call this parenting approach the "Cheshire Cat Method of Parenting." It provides the perfect visual for what your face will look like when you apply this parenting method.

Picture the cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland. I would describe the look he gives Alice as one of amusement, challenge and mystery. You feel like he knows something you don't know when you look at the smile/smirk on his face. As you look in those conniving eyes you are convinced that there is a mystery a foot and he's quite pleased with himself.

As a parent of 5 wonderful, terrible, clever, determined and cherished children, I've learned that when they choose to not follow what their father and I have outlined as our "reasonable expectations" it's easy to be angry with their apparent defiance.

However, I'm slowly discovering the fact that there is no need to allow myself to be angry when these times occur, they've made a choice and it's my job to teach them that all choices have a consequence. I'm learning to meet out consequences with creativity, humor and a cheshire cat smile on my face.

So start practicing putting that look on your face as you learn and apply these "4 Simple Parenting Smirk Tips."

Smirk Tip #1

It's easy to punish a child for their disobedience or defiance. The challenge of parenting is to provide them with natural consequences to their behavior. Punishment is punitive and consequences are educational.

When your child makes a poor choice that results in a need for a natural or creative consequence, put on your cheshire cat smile and start considering the consequences.

Look for the natural consequences to their inappropriate behavior. You may not need to add any additional consequences. If they forgot to do their homework, then they get a lower grade or miss recess to complete the assignment at school.

Put on your cheshire cat smile and choose your battles. If they have experienced a natural consequence to their behavior, then smile that smile and encourage, model and teach them to be more organized the next time.

A major role of wise parents is to help their children learn life lessons before they become adults and make decisions that could negatively impact their life for the long term.

If they steal a candy bar at the grocery store, then a natural consequence would be to return the bar and apologize. You could even take it a step further with a creative consequence and have them use their allowance to pay for the bar and not get to keep the candy.

If they steal at age 21, a natural consequence would be jail and there is no longer the opportunity to apply a creative, educational, consequence.

Which do you think would be better; to have our children learn the importance of honesty at age 4 or age 21? Identifying natural and creative consequences allows for this learning process.

Smirk Tip #2

Defuse the situation with humor and creative consequences that "fit the crime."

Removing my sons' bedroom door for a week after it's slammed is a creative consequence. Grounding him from X-box for a week is a punishment. Which applies more to the 'crime' and which will allow me to talk calmly and discuss why it is a problem to slam doors in our home?

Here is another example of creative consequences. My fourteen old son threw a pillow at his sibling for the millionth time about a month ago. He had been previously counseled and punished several times regarding this unacceptable behavior.

This time my husband put on his cheshire cat smile and calmly told him that because he threw the pillow, the furniture was now in fear of it's life and if he sat on the furniture it might suck him in and eat him! (See, parenting can be fun)

Consequently, he couldn't sit or use any of the furniture in the den for 24 hours. Then the furniture would have time to calm down and it would be safe for him to use the furniture again. After all, we were only concerned for his safety.

Not using the furniture for 24 hours was a creative consequence. The imaginative story that we feared for his safety, was fun and allowed us to put on our cheshire cat smile. It's been a month, no more flying pillows at our home!

Smirk Tip #3

Don't buy into the power struggle...or in other words, don't allow yourself to loose control of the situation.

If you can talk calmly and think clearly and creatively, then you are in control. If your child draws you into a battle of wills or wits then you will loose your temper and they win control of the situation.

When I explain what is required, such as finishing the dishes, and I am met with a whining response of dissatisfaction, I put on my cheshire cat smile and calmly explain, "I don't speak "Whinese". When you can talk to me like a normal person, we'll discuss your concerns. In the mean time, do the dishes.

Smirk Tip #4

Put on your cheshire cat smile and lower your voice rather than raise your voice. I've heard this advice from several parenting coaches and counselors. Guess what, it works!

If you are prone to yelling, then this smirk tip will really throw your kids for a loop. If a situation arises that you would normally begin to yell, instead put on your cheshire cat smile and lower your voice.

You will see their looks of bewilderment and wonder, and find that when your children are at a loss for words, they do what they're told. Isn't creative parenting grand?

There will be times where you may not be able to determine a good creative consequence, or the natural consequence isn't strong/severe enough. Don't loose heart, there are times when you have to just pull out the more punitive punishments where they loose a privilege. It helps keep them on their toes too!

A few months ago we just couldn't come up with an appropriate consequence, so we fell back on the loss of x-box for a few days. My 14-year-old son was a bit distraught and I told him if he could come up with a consequence that better fit the crime, I would consider revising the consequence.

You know you are in parent heaven when your children are suggesting appropriate consequences, which are good! With a slight tweak, we changed the consequence to the one he suggested. Of course, we changed the consequence with the infamous cheshire cat smile on our face.

As you practice the cheshire cat method of parenting, you will discover how much fun your parenting experience can be. Plus, your children will learn life's lessons more effectively and effeciently.

Happy smirking!
About the Author
Beth Young is the Senior Editor of the leading marriage advise web site, MarriageAdvice.com. To download your free ebook titled, "101 Marriage Secrets" visit http://www.MarrigeAdvice.com.
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