"Mark, What do I do when I’ve issued the 3-day-discipline (e.g., for violating curfew), but then my son creates a new problem before completing the discipline (e.g., calls me a bitch, then breaks a plate by throwing it in the sink too hard)? Do I start the 3 days over even though the “broken plate episode” is unrelated to the curfew violation, or does this new problem get a different consequence?"
You only restart the 3-day-discipline if the original crime is re-committed (in this case, if your son violates curfew again).
When parents issue a 3-day-discipline, it is very common for kids to introduce additional behavioral problems (temper tantrums, threats, etc.) as a way to (a) get the parent side-tracked from the original consequence and (b) get the focus off of them and onto the parent’s anger.
If the parent falls for this, she ends up issuing additional consequences on top of existing consequences …restrictions against the kid begin to pile up …and before long, the kid is grounded for 3 months with no privileges …and both the parent and the kid have forgotten what the original problem was.
Don’t let this happen to you. Do not let your son get you distracted from the original problem and the associated consequence for that problem. Here’s how you do this:
If your son commits another crime (figuratively speaking) during a 3-day-discipline, put this new crime in the “Deal-With-It-Later” file. You literally write the problem down on a piece of paper (e.g., ‘son called me a bad name and broke a plate’) and put this note-to-yourself somewhere where you can find it after the original 3-day-discipline is completed.
After the original 3-day-discipline is completed, you then confront your son regarding the second problem he introduced by saying, “Just for your information, in the future, if you choose to ____________ (in this case, “call me a bitch and break my dishes”), then you’ll choose the consequence which is ________________ (here you just follow the strategy “When You Want Something From Your Kid” in the Anger Management Chapter of the Online Version of the eBook).
So, does your son get “off the hook” for calling you a name and breaking a plate? In a way, yes …but only for the time being. He will have to answer to you if the name-calling and plate-breaking occur again in the future.
Pick your battles carefully – but perhaps more importantly, pick them one-at-a-time. Do not try to fight 14 battles at once. You’ll just blow a blood vessel in your brain …and your kid will be successful at getting you to chase your tail.
Use your “Deal-With-It-Later” file frequently. You’ll save yourself a lot of time and energy that would otherwise be spent in chronic power struggles.
Q: How do you eat an elephant?
A: One bite at a time.
==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents
P.S. Speaking of mistakes you don’t want to make—
I sometimes get emails like this:
“O.K. I purchased and read your eBook today. Now …I have the following problems with my teenager...”
Then the parent goes on to list about 6 – 10 problems that she is facing currently.
This is a mistake. DO NOT read the entire eBook in one sitting and then attempt to implement all the recommended parenting strategies at once.
When I conduct my parent group live (the same thing you have online), we take 4 weeks to digest the material – one session a week, each session lasting about 90 minutes. You should do the same. Your agenda will look like this:
Week #1: Read/listen to session #1 and implement session #1 assignments.
Week #2: Read/listen to session #2 and implement session #2 assignments.
Week #3: Read/listen to session #3 and implement session #3 assignments.
Week #4: Read/listen to session #4 and implement session #4 assignments.
Otherwise, you’ll be biting off much more than you can chew -- which will result in a “mac-daddy”case of parenting-heartburn.