Many family coaches waste valuable energy and coaching time because they either listen to their child too much and feel powerless and exhausted by the excessive arguments and discussion, or they are afraid of losing control of the coaching situation, so don’t listen enough and their child feels powerless.
The positive discipline approach means you both have enough power and control when coaching because you and your child both understand that they are in charge of their behaviours, and through choosing ‘good’ or ‘bad’ student behaviours, they choose the associated consequences. Your role as their coach is to step out of the way as they make their choices, and then make sure that the consequences always happen.
Step two: Make a coaching agreement with your child that you both find fair.
The purpose of the agreement is to create a positive and respectful coaching environment that you both are responsible for maintaining.‘Good’ and ‘bad’ definitions of student behaviour are understood, and your child also understands the consequences in place for when they show both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ student behaviour.
Your behaviour as their coach can also be included in the coaching agreement. For example, your child might want you to stay patient and not use sarcasm or raise your voice. You can also decide negative consequences for yourself if you don’t use good coaching behaviours if you think that might develop a more respectful coaching atmosphere. As when deciding consequences for your child, keep most consequences small, the atmosphere light, and stay the final judge. I often use the first up to five game as the consequence because it is easy to use, and fun. The prize can be a small snack for the winner.
The most effective consequences are relatively effortless for you to implement and monitor, while giving your child immediate pleasure or pain. Don’t rush into any agreements before you have:
- Made sure consequences can be put into action fairly immediately, and are easy to administer and monitor.
- Checked that the positive consequences are something they really do want, and the negative consequences something they definitely don’t want.
- Simplified consequences so they don’t cost you much time, energy, or money.
- Decided how to increase the severity of the negative consequences if your child continues to choose to use ‘bad student’ behaviours.
Small positive consequences that you can give easily and without hesitation:
- Praise and a smile.
- Privileges. Privileges are anything you give your child besides the basic necessities of life (food, clothing, warmth, and love). Privileges include time with anything that they consider fun, such as computer time, DVD or TV time, or skateboard/scooter time.
- Tangible rewards. This includes small amounts of pocket money, special food, fun toys, books, outings, and points earned towards something bigger they want.
Small negative consequences that you can give easily and without hesitation
- You gain a point for specific examples of ‘bad student’ behaviour and they gain one for specific examples of ‘good student’ behaviour and the winner is the one who gets the first 5 points and a small reward.
- A longer coaching time to catch up on the work not done. Add a minute for each minute lost with ‘bad student’ behaviour. Write each minute up immediately and somewhere your child can see, and then erase it after they have worked for that minute.
- They lose or gain minutes to be used on a favourite and privileged past-time.
More serious consequences that need careful monitoring from you:
- Losing privileges for a set amount of time. There are as many variations on the ‘losing privileges scenario as there are families. A privilege is anything they like to do or have that is not directly related to their physical or mental well-being.
- I suggest you make the loss of privilege happen as immediately as possible so that they feel the pain of that loss very soon after their ‘poor student’ behaviour.
- Give them hope by making it a short period of loss. Time for privileges can be reckoned per minutes, hours, days, or per weeks so that your child has renewed opportunities to have that privilege again soon.
- No negotiation after. Time, money, or points lost can’t be earned back.
- Privileges can decrease in set increments. For example, each ‘bad student’ behaviour could lose them 15 minutes of the agreed-upon time with a computer game for that day. Create an agreement that works for you and your child, and modify it until it effectively supports your child to change any unhelpful ‘bad student’ behaviours.
- They lose small amounts of pocket money. For example, they could earn weekly pocket money for daily chores and ‘good student’ behaviour, but lose a set amount of money for uncompleted chores and for each ‘bad student’ behaviour. You could monitor pocket money with a chart.
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