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When you are homeschooling children, no matter the age, you’re bound to run into situations when you need to work on discipline! Certainly, it’s going to look different for every family. We don’t need to spend much time on punishment! As a Dad, I may have different ways of dealing with our son than my wife. But it seems to work in our homeschool.
Our son is eight and is relatively well-behaved. We expect no talking back during lessons, no complaining, and obedience. When I ask him to redo an exercise or do further work on a subject, I expect him to act respectfully and “agree” to it without complaining or whining. We’re not sure this is what others do and what it’s like in school, but we think it’s reasonable.
In the beginning, our son would lose his mind or start throwing tantrums when we asked him to fix or correct something. And he had a difficult time accepting he got an answer wrong in math for example. He would argue it’s not wrong and deny there was any mistake. We positively handle things with patience in most cases. It sure does take ALOT of patience at times, not to lose our temper. But we manage to keep our voices at a normal tone, most of the time!
Start by Taking Away Privileges
I aim to have a normal calm conversation if there are any discussions or resistance to my instructions. I allow some flexibility in the schedule and which lesson to start with. For example, our son may want to start with Math first, rather than Language Arts and that’s fine. But if there is any backtalk, I will give a warning. We say something like thanks for your opinion but if you don’t do this, consider this your first warning. And if you continue, you will lose a privilege.
Normally, we can handle most instances of resistance or disobedience with a warning or two. We have a good idea of handling most situations and we talk like he is an adult. I try to do it without raising my voice and using a normal tone and volume. Taking away privileges is something that has evolved over the years. They will change over time for sure for every family will consider different tactics.
No Netflix or Spotify
In our home, we don’t have much time to watch TV and that’s by choice. We don’t ever turn the TV on during the day when our son is awake. No news, and no movies but we will watch some Netflix after he is asleep. My wife and I both work from home, so most of the time we are working and there is NO TIME for watching anything! Our strategy has always been to limit screen time and TV so it’s a true privilege and treasure for our son. He looks forward to the hour of his choice on Saturday and Sunday.
Spotify is also treasured in our home and my son is musically inclined. He enjoys making his playlists and learning lyrics to clean songs. Since he plays the drums he is always searching for the best songs to learn how to play in his drumming lessons. His teacher encourages him to find the songs he likes. , So he practices songs he is interested in, rather than playing boring pieces of “training” music. Spotify is also considered a privilege, so if our son can’t listen on the way to football practice or elsewhere, he does feel the pain.
No Dessert or Meals: Does it Work?
There are some occasions where we might need to resort to a warning of no dessert tonight! If there happens to be some nice cake or ice cream, that can work as well. If he happens to lose his chance for it, he gets to watch others eat a nice bowl of ice cream or cake. Our punishment never includes the loss of a meal. We don’t seem to believe that is a good way to discipline. Our son plays football so he needs a good amount of nutrition.
And we also found out that the threat of losing a dessert doesn’t work well! He would rather go without than do what we asked. He’s not used to having too many sweets, so it wasn’t a suitable deterrent for us.
Take Away Toys
One thing we found works like a charm is taking away his favorite toy for a specific period. This past Christmas, he got a set of eight Ninjago Lego figures. One day he lost all eight of them for three days. After that incident, we just hint about that and he calms down.
In our homeschool, we don’t need to pay much time disciplining our son. But we occasionally need some methods of discipline to guide and remind him. The difference between taking toys away and privileges is that the toy disappears immediately. Our son sees it and he knows and feels the “pain”. Sometimes taking privileges away doesn’t work well. The punishment is so far away! It’s only Monday, so my son has told me that he doesn’t care about watching TV on Saturday.
But taking his toys away seems to be the most drastic punishment we have. If the threat of losing TV on the weekend and Spotify wasn’t enough to quell the dissent, we move to toy removal! This is usually enough to handle most discipline issues.
Tantrums in homeschooling will eventually come up no matter how well you think you are communicating. If I have already exhausted all my go-to punishments of taking away privileges, I will allow my son to take a break. But it will also usually include extra homework. I will assign a few extra worksheets for math if my son is out of control. This level of discipline is rarely needed, but maybe once every few months.
We are blessed we started slowly and early with homeschooling, so we don’t have much resistance so far. I will have to admit my wife handles tantrums slightly differently. She will be much more verbal and raise her voice. She is a music teacher and she is pretty no-nonsense. I think my son is pretty scared to mess with mom!
We have tried spanking as a form of discipline a few times over the years. At first, my son was oblivious to it and it didn’t have much effect. And then I tried using a nice leather belt. He was acting up and throwing things, so I used a belt and he got a good lick on his leg but he said it didn’t hurt. That’s when I realized I was too soft and finally gave him a “better” shot. He said wow that hurts and realized belts are painful.
I don’t like to use spanking as a way to discipline unless I think there is no way to communicate. My son has to do some really bad stuff like throw things or try to hit me and then he will be threatened with the belt. When he sees it, he will settle down now that he knows it hurts.
So as a dad who cares about being able to communicate well and discipline my son with care and respect, this is how we do it. A scaled approach of taking away privileges, then taking away prized toys, and as a last resort the nice leather belt. On average we need to discipline my son every few weeks. A good reminder and warning are usually enough to keep him in line.
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