(This is a re-post for newer readers.)
One of the toughest challenges we had as parents was regarding discipline. We wanted to be firm but loving and fair and for the consequences to be effective, age-appropriate, and child-specific.
Unfortunately, it quickly became obvious that what is a behavior-changing consequence for one child could be a nice break from routine for another.
And just about the time we found a consequence that worked for one child it tended to fairly quickly stop working for another—-even when it had been working very well only a week earlier.
We also quickly learned that longer-term consequences such as “If you do that you will be grounded for a month” not only rarely deterred the behavior that we sought to avoid, it often also seemed to be more punishment for us to attempt to consistently enforce it than it was an effective post-act consequence for them.
So, we strongly preferred consequences that were quickly dealt and then done, so they-–and we–-could get on with life. But such consequences that were also effective were rare indeed.
We tried all sorts of things, and most weren’t effective deterrents for long. That became especially true as they got older.
That is, until we discovered Hallway Torture, err, I mean Hallway Time. Our kids absolutely HATED being bored. And there is nothing to do, play with, or read in our hallway. We found that if we told one of our children to sit in the hallway for a certain number of minutes as a consequence that it was often a very effective deterrent indeed.
That doesn’t mean that they didn’t constantly try to see what they could get away with in the hallway.
They tried reading books or bringing in toys or games.
Rule change: No books, games, toys, (and if our children weren’t already grown up adults and if we were parenting children today we’d definitely also prohibit all electronic devices.)
They tried hounding us with questions such as “Is the time over yet?”
Rule Change: No talking. If you talk, extra Hallway Time is added. (That backfired on us once when we forgot and a child was left in the hallway for much longer than they were supposed to. I don’t recall what we did to make it up to that poor kid but I know it left them with a big smile!)
They tried sleeping.
Rule change: No sleeping. If you sleep, extra time is added. If you have to, stand up so you don’t fall asleep. This isn’t nap or reward time; it’s consequence time.
We even found it worked for Two-fers. When two of our children got into trouble together—especially if it was from bickering with each other– Hallway Time often worked perfectly to change the behavior.
Of course, they would try to bend the rules by whispering to each other, but we’d learned a few things by then too.
Rules included: Be at opposite ends of the hallway, no talking singing or whispering, no touching/ pushing/shoving or body contact of any kind. No giggling or laughing. (They would sometimes make funny faces, etc, trying to get the other to laugh out loud and get into trouble.)
All infractions meant—you guessed it—MORE HALLWAY TIME.
We have an “L”-shaped hallway. To make it easier on our children to comply with the rules–and on us in enforcing them—we often placed the kids at opposite ends of the hallway and around the corner from each other.
Hallway Time proved to be the most effective and longest-lasting consequence for all three of our children that we ever came up with.
Your mileage may vary.