Due to a number of requests on this Instagram picture I shared about my son doing push ups, here is a post about why and how we use push ups as a discipline strategy.
I have two girls 10 and 8 and a boy who is 5. When the girls were little, time out worked well as a discipline strategy. As they’ve gotten older, when a consequence is needed, I make them write sentences or a paper explaining a better solution to the problem they faced.
But my boy….
Let’s just say…sitting and writing are NOT terribly effective. Lately, I’ve used a discipline strategy that has really worked well.
What Has Worked For Us
If he misbehaves, he does push ups. It’s kind of a miracle consequence for us. Here’s why:
1. It is a great energy release for my high energy boy. Half the time that he gets in trouble it has something to do with ALL. HIS. ENERGY. Push ups help wear him out and calm him down a bit.
2. I can assign push ups anywhere. He’s old enough that even if we are at a store and he is not showing self control, I can assign push ups (that we’ll do later at home) and it’s just the boundry he needs to help him make better choices. Note: I used to forget by the time we get home, but now I just have Siri (iPhone reminder) remind me when I get home.
3. He likes push ups. As a boy who wants to be big and strong, he kind of likes doing push ups, so making him follow through isn’t a challenge. I always praise him if he does a lot in a row without stopping and that makes him beam. It might seem odd that I assign a consequence that he likes, but my goal with consequences isn’t to make him miserable, it’s to help him think twice about his actions.
4. They are stinkin’ hard to do. No matter how much he likes them, push ups are still hard to do. He knows he can only do so many, and that he’ll be hurting tomorrow if he has to do too many.
It Takes Two
Push ups are kind of easy to whimp out on. Kids can use their knees, have bad form or not go down as low as they can. I’m pretty drill seargant-ish about good form and doing a full push up. This can be a hassle, but I like to be a part in his consequence. We count the push ups together. Sometimes (not terribly often) I’ll even do them with him.
It can be a hassle.
I don’t want to just assign something and walk away.
If he disobeys, I want the consequence to be a bit of a hassle for me. It prevents me from punishing him without following through and teaching him. It requires me to be involved in the whole process so that we can work on the character issue that caused it. We are a team. I’m his “coach.” If he’s struggling in some area, then I need to walk with him through the consequence, practice right responses and work it out.
Push ups as a consequence has worked really well for us.
I figure he’ll either be the most respectful kid in kindergarten or the most ripped kid in kindergarten.
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