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How to Discipline your Children – A Better Way

December 31st, 2008 · 21 Comments · The Joy of Fatherhood

Whether your children are grown up on not, and whether or not you have children, I strongly urge you to read this post. You won’t regret it. And it you don’t… 🙂

I’m what is often referred to as a mean dad. To put it another way, I am a parent. I am the law. I think you get the picture. I believe in the same methods for disciplining children that Lin at Telling It Like It Is describes so well in her post, How to Discipline Children. Her blog was the first place I read of the term “mean mom“, and then realized that I’m a mean dad. But that’s the way I was raised, and it worked, and I figure if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. To me, there are no secrets to raising good kids, you just need to be a parent, and that means saying no. Children aren’t perfect, they will make “mistakes“, and sometimes you will need to discipline your children. All this said, I am always open to new ideas, and I recently read about a new kinder, gentler method of how to discipline your children which I want to share with you.

A Better Way to Discipline your Children

In a nutshell, the idea is really brilliantly simple. When your child gets in trouble, instead of being a mean parent and spanking them, or being an enlightened parent and giving them a time out, or being their friend and and/or trying to figure out how you are to blame for their behavior, this new discipline method is to go for a car ride and talk to them. Yes, it’s just that simple. Go for a drive and TALK with your child.

From what I read about this revolutionary method of simply taking your child for a car ride and talking to them, this method is EXTREMELY EFFECTIVE. After the car ride, children seem to really calm down and stop their bad behavior. It could be the soothing effect of the car vibrations, or it could be just just getting your child away from the distractions of the TV, computer, cellphone, iPod, or friends. It could also just be the one-on-one time with them that they appreciate. But it works! To see the amazing effect that taking your child for a car ride and calmly talking to them can have, just scroll down…

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[image of terrified kid on hood of car holding on and screaming for dear life as mom speeds along at 99 miles per hour]

I told you that you wouldn’t regret reading this post! 😉 Just to be clear, this post is NOT serious. Do NOT do this at home, or on the road, or anywhere else for that matter.

On this last day of 2008, I encourage you to remember the words of the great turtle guru, who said “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery. But today is a Gift, which is why it is called the Present.

Happy New Year, and may we all have a great 2009.


21 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Mom On The Run // Dec 31, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    I tried that… My neighbours called the cops 🙂 You’re actually onto something. One time, when my oldest was almost 2 she began to act up at a restaurant. I took her outside sat her down on the curb and talked to her. Afterwards we returned to the table and she was good as gold. My mom was shocked that it worked (as when I was a kid she spanked me), and she complemented me for responding so calmly. I often think its because of my calm response to discipline that my oldest is so tolerant of her younger sister.

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  • 2 Tim // Dec 31, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    Here I was trying to be serious and not think about you taking your child for a ‘ride’ where you threatened to drop him/ her off at the shelter/police station/nunnery 🙂 I was starting to think maybe I was a bad person or something!

  • 3 The Trade Show Guru // Dec 31, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    hi Janice,
    Thanks for stopping by. I’m not surprised by your daughter’s response, or that it worked. I’m actually a big believer in talking with ones kids, and being firm and backing it up. The key is to say only what one means, and then follow through, and not to make threats and then do nothing (i.e. we’re going to leave right now if you don’t do so and so… but then they don’t and one doesn’t leave).
    I think kids pretty quickly can figure out who’s in charge, the parents or the kids.
    All that said, I’m not trying to say by any means that parenting is easy. 😉 ~ Steve

    Hey Tim, That would have been a good ending as well. LOL. You aren’t a bad person, and I’m sure Santa brought you more than a lump of coal… perhaps a six pack of Blue Beaver beer? 🙂 ~ Steve

  • 4 Lin Burress @Telling It Like It Is // Dec 31, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    LOL Steve, that’s too cute. As I was reading, I began to wonder where the punch line is. 🙂

    Talking with children is so important. Disciplining children is NOT about being an authoritarian dictator. To effectively discipline children a parent MUST “say what you mean and mean what you say” and then follow through.

    Setting limits and boundaries etc (age appropriate of course), with consistent and meaningful conversation with children about what is expected of them is extremely important. The older children get, the harder discipline may become, and that’s why discipline (teaching, training especially) should begin from the time kids are very young.

    It’s amazing to me personally how many parents have difficulty saying NO to their kids. Or as I typically refer to it, “the tail wagging the dog”.

  • 5 The Trade Show Guru // Dec 31, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    hi Lin (aka the original mean mom),
    Thanks for stopping by, and I agree. It’s not a matter of being a dictator, it’s just a matter of being a parent, and being clear and firm, and consistent. The sooner one starts, the easier it is. Well said.
    ~ Steve
    PS. There’s no “tail wagging” in this family, well, at least not much. 😉

  • 6 Shirley // Dec 31, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    Yeh, it really just comes down to spending time with your children. Most of the time that kids act up, they are crying out for attention, whether they know it or not.

    When I was younger, my mom had a novel way of disciplining me: she’d make me write essays about what I did wrong, or she’d make me write a rule hundreds of times.

    It was very effective:
    First, I’d always look at the blister on my finger whenever I thought of acting up.
    Second, I was by far the fastest writer in my class, and would win many SPEED awards. Not to mention, I wrote very well essays.
    Third, I always remember several reasons NOT to act up.


    I don’t think that any child should be ‘spanked’ or told to stay in a corner, one method teaches fear, and the other method is quite unloving…

    Just my two cents., and sorry for the rant. 🙂

    PS. AND that picture is so sad. lol.

  • 7 cardiogirl // Jan 1, 2009 at 6:51 am

    (Still laughing)

    I have found, after time out, my 8-year-old feels calmer after I ask her to tell me what she’s thinking and everything on her mind regarding “the incident.”

    I listen to all of it, reiterate to her what she said to me and ask her if she has anything else to add.

    When she finishes I then respond to what she said. Sometimes she’ll tell me, “I want you to hug me when I start to cry and have a fit.” (Yeah, still working on tantrums at 8 YEARS OLD! Auuggghhhh!)


    Other times she tells me, “I want you to get rid of my sisters.”

    Hmm, that one’s not gonna happen. Is there a work around? No? Well this is a good example of learning to cope with the things we can’t change.

    When all of that doesn’t work and I am at my wit’s end I take away her computer privileges or her Nintendo DS and she screams, “I hate you!”

    Isn’t parenting fun?

  • 8 The Trade Show Guru // Jan 1, 2009 at 11:54 am

    hi cardiogirl,
    Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for sharing your advice and experience. I didn’t expect this post to actually have some meaningful advice, but thanks to your comment and the comments above, it does! One never knows what will happen with comments. Thanks again. ~ Steve
    PS. We haven’t hit the “I hate you” phase yet, but I’m sure we will. I think more communication (like you do) helps minimize it, but I think it’s also just part of being a parent. 🙂

  • 9 Lee (Tarheel Rambler) // Jan 2, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    At the age of 44, I finished a degree in Child Development and Family Studies…after 4 of my 5 children were in their teens or older. I wish I had taken some of those classes a decade or two sooner. It would have saved me a little of my sanity.

    Like you, I would qualify as a mean dad, because I didn’t try to be a friend…I was too busy being a parent. Are there things I would do differently today? Absolutely! But, all five of my children are making something of their lives, and so far the grandchildren are turning out pretty well too.

    Great post!

  • 10 The Trade Show Guru // Jan 2, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    Hey Lee,
    I think your comment summed up one of my parenting mantas. “Be a parent, not a friend.” It would be great to be both, but usually that’s not always possible, and often it’s only one or the other, but not both.
    Anyway, there are things I’d do different too, and my kids are still just kids 🙂 , but it sounds like based on your children and your grandchildren, what you did worked, which is what I would expect from a fellow “mean dad”. 😉
    Thanks for stopping by. ~ Steve

  • 11 Andrea // Jan 4, 2009 at 2:29 am

    Great Post, Steve!

    I am a firm believer of being a “mean” parent. I honestly think that my kids respect me more for it. I’ll admit, I used to spank my kids as a form of punishment. I saw that it was going nowhere too. It may work for some but not for us. So now when they get out of line, I take away the cellphone, computer and/or video games and assign housework on the side. Then afterward, when the kid is done with the housework, we sit down and talk about what needs to change and how can we work it out. That has been working much better than spanking.

  • 12 The Trade Show Guru // Jan 4, 2009 at 10:39 am

    hi Andrea,
    Thanks for stopping by. I think you take being a “mean” parent to a whole new level. Taking a way your kid’s cellphone? Isn’t that illegal, or even unconstitutional? I’m pretty sure that isn’t allowed here in California. 😉 ~ Steve
    PS. I would also guess that that is amazingly effective, though our kids are still too young to have cellphones, though not for lack of asking. 🙂

  • 13 Will // Jan 4, 2009 at 6:12 pm

    Thanks for the good laugh!

    Seriously, though, I discovered this a long time ago and it still works even with kids in their late teens and early twenties. There is something about the ride in the car and it is not just because they are a captive audience. I don’t know, but it works and I still use it.

  • 14 The Trade Show Guru // Jan 4, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    hi Will,
    As long as the ride is “in the car” and not “on the hood” I can support it. 🙂 And I do agree that talking is never a bad idea and usually does wonders! ~ Steve

  • 15 Natural // Jan 5, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    hey part of this post is what i’ve been doing. i read a book many moons ago called how to behave so your children will too. often times they are either “responding” to our problems or we are “responding” to theirs….i try to think of what situations may cause a problem before it happens (going into the toy store and the kid wants a toy. i tell her what she can and can’t have before we leave home). she knows the deal before the get go. act accordingly. sorry i sucked the fun outta this post. we still have melt downs, but very very very little. i tell her my nerves are bad. lol

  • 16 Natural // Jan 5, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    oh you can delete this but i was too scared to comment on your blog. i’m not good at following rules. i guess i’m feeling fearless today and oh yeah i’m supposed to call you brilliant and handsome and you might consider leaving this post up? lol okay delete.

  • 17 The Trade Show Guru // Jan 5, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    hey Natural (aka fun-sucker-outer, aka Valerie),
    Very good first comment. I agree. And as to your second comment, there is no way I’m going to delete a comment that says I am “brilliant and handsome”. Thank you very much, and good karma to you! ~ Steve

  • 18 Master of the Philippines // Jan 20, 2009 at 1:39 am

    I simply had to come back and read through this again, along with the comments. I was an authoritarian dad when the children were very, very young — when physical discipline was the only thing that worked. Thankfully, that stage doesn’t last long. There are so many other ways to take control of the relationship as they get older, that physical discipline isn’t necessary.

    Now, I have two full-grown sons (one 28 and the other 23) and both turned out much better than I expected. The older one is a military dependent to his Air Force wife stationed in Germany (he has 3 years of Army service under his belt) while the younger one lives with me and is going to college for nursing.

    On a side note, my younger son doesn’t want to be a regular nurse. He wants to be in the military. I discouraged him until I recently found out that the Navy has a Nurse Corps. Huh? I guess you learn something new every day.

  • 19 The Trade Show Guru // Jan 20, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    Hi RT,
    Thanks for the comment. I think we can measure how good of parents we are by how our children turn out, but by the time we find out, if we’re unhappy with the results, it’s too late to change it. 🙂
    Thanks for sharing about your kids. Sounds like you knew what you were doing. I’ll find out for myself in about twenty years. 🙂 ~ Steve

  • 20 Todd // Feb 25, 2009 at 12:59 am

    Hey Steve,

    Ut oh, you and Lin are going to be rolling your eyes at me … I’m a “nice” dad ! … especially with my girls.

    It’s not that bad though, I was basically compensating for their “mean” (and not always in a good way) mom, who is also my ex-wife.

    Plus, my current wife is neither mean or nice … she’s “just right” … which is probably why I married her 😉

    As for your post … cracked me up … seriously.

    … that being said, after the first time, my kids would probably start being bad on purpose, just so they could go for that ride again.


  • 21 The Trade Show Guru // Feb 25, 2009 at 10:11 am

    Hi Todd,
    I’m rolling my eyes… 🙂
    I could see some kids after that car ride (which for the record I have never done and do NOT recommend) saying… “Cool! Let’s do that again!” 😉 ~ Steve

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