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Rely on Natural Consequences Aside from issues of health and safety, Markham recommends letting kids learn from the natural consequences of their actions rather than from parent-imposed consequences. For example, when a fi rst-grader

pushes other kids on the playground, he learns that nobody wants to play with him. His mom could reinforce that lesson by talking about how the other children felt when he was mistreating them. And Markham says she could also coach him to fi nd another way to speak up for himself: “Hey, I was next in line; it’s my turn!” Traditional punishments like

taking away TV privileges would teach an entirely diff erent lesson. In the latter case, the boy isn’t learning how the world works; he’s learn- ing how his mom works. “If you’re involved in the consequence, then you’re giving them all sorts of unin- tended lessons,” she says.

Undo Damage When kids need to undo damage they’ve caused (physical or otherwise), Block recommends involving them in the discussion of consequences. “That’s where you learn empathy and putting yourself in the other person’s shoes, because you have to think of a way to solve it,” she says. “To me, that’s a lot more useful than a punishment.” Such a discussion could happen

in what Markham calls a “time-in.” “You take them to a safe place — it might be their room, it might be the couch — and you sit down with them and say, ‘This is so hard. You’re so upset. I’m right here. You’re safe. You can be as upset as you want, and I will listen,’ ” she says. Markham says time-ins are much

better than time-outs. “When we put them on the naughty step or send them to their room, it is symbolic abandonment,” she says.

Find Ways to Say Yes Finally, Markham recommends that parents fi nd ways to say yes — even as they’re saying no. If it’s time to clean up the living room, you could say, “Yes, it’s time to clean up … and, yes, I will help you … and, yes, you can leave your Lego tower up … and, yes, if we hurry, we can read an extra story.” She adds, “Find a yes even in a no, even when you’re setting a limit. But ‘Yes, I love you’ is a part of it, no matter what.” Which brings us back to Block’s

book, This Hurts Me More Than It Hurts You. In describing her parents’ positive approach to discipline, one 14-year-old girl said this: “My parents listen to what we have to say and give us advice. They are not happy if we misbehave but constantly remind us that they love us. My parents make us feel secure and loved.” What more could any parent want? ¿

Reminder: The BSA’s Youth Protection guidelines state, “Corporal punishment is never permitted” in Scouting.

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