The concept of disciplining is not to create a fear of negative consequences; rather, it is to assist the child in seeing that the rule that has been set is another of the set of absolute rules that the child has already included in his day-to-day mental understanding of the world. In order to create the concept of an absolute rule, the parent must first set limits in a non-abstract, concrete fashion. Next, the rule set by the parent must be carried out in an absolute manner. The key to this is consistency. If a child breaks a rule, the consequence must follow every single time. The consequence must be given again even if the child breaks the rule almost immediately after the consequence was given the first time. This creates the concept of an unbreakable rule. Once the unbreakability of the rule has been established, the child will not rebel against the rule.
Jason decided to work hard at disciplining his child. First, he told his child to “act good.” Jason did not realize that the term “act good” was a broad concept. Jason did not explain what the child specifically needed to do. When Jason’s daughter began to not “act good,” Jason put the child in time-out. The daughter walked out of time out and went back to not “acting good.” Jason concluded that his daughter does not respond well to time out.
Jerry decided to help his son change a specific behavior. Jerry explained to his son that he did not want him to hit his sister. Jerry’s son hit his sister. Jerry put his son in time out. The son simply walked out of time out and hit his sister again. Jerry placed him in time out again. The son left time out and hit his sister harder. The scenario of Jerry placing his son in time out and his son hitting his sister continued for about 35 min. At the end of thirty five minutes, Jerry’s son sat down in time out and began to cry, very loudly. After he was finished crying, his son apologized and did not hit his sister for another two hours. When his son hit again he was escorted to time out. This time his son completed his time out quickly, returned to playing, and went without hitting his sister for a longer period of time.