Different parents have differing ways of disciplining their kids. You may have had an abrupt awakening to this fact of life when you discovered that your spouse came from a family where the first response to a child’s refusal to obey was to spank—and you came from a family that used timeouts or other methods.

Or you may have been in a playgroup where the kid that throws sand at your kid has parents that just ignore such behavior and do not discipline their child.

No matter what the method you use to discipline your child’s for unacceptable behavior, when and how you do it is important. Christa Phipps, a therapist and clinical supervisor at Hickory Grove Counseling Center in North Carolina has come up with a way to remember some important things, that she calls “IDEAL” in a discipline scenario with your kid:

  • Immediate (within three seconds)
  • Direct (be within 3 feet and make eye contact with the child)
  • Efficient (be measured and use the least amount of firmness possible)
  • Action-based (have the child model appropriate behavior to create motor memory for making future choices)
  • Leveled (aim the response at the behavior, not the child)

Even if the consequences (spanking, timeout, redirection, or other strategies) aren’t the same, do you see how memorizing this IDEAL sequence could help you? What do you think?