Parenting With Grace-Book Study: Chapter Four

(Intro here, and Chapter One, Chapter Two, Chapter Three)
Everything in quotations can be directly attributed to the authors, unless otherwise noted.  These are my own very brief personal notes/interpretation/things I want to remember

Chapter Four: Mutiny on the Bounty! Corrective Discipline for Stormy Seas

The more consistently parents employ Everyday Discipline (see last chapter), the less they will ever have to use Corrective Discipline!!!

-Corrective discipline works best when there is good rapport between parent and child

Reserve these techniques for serious problems when simple relational discipline fails-they withdrawal more "currency" for emotional bank account.

(remember this is just my brief outline/notes, the book goes into more explanation and uses real-life examples)

1. Cool-Down Time 
(For occasions when emotions are beginning to run high in discussion between parent and child.)

-Not "time-out"-it isn't something you do to a child to get him to calm down, the intention is to help both parent and child regain control of yourselves and come up with respectful solution.

-Measure emotional temperature on scale 1-10, 1 being heavy tranquilizers, 4 being you as read book, 10 being you scaling clock tower with AK-47 on back.  Anything over 6.5=INEFFECTIVE problem-solving.

-Interrupt discussion, take a break, (this is not a punishment!), regain composure, and return to solve problem when calm.

2. Time-Outs
(To calm child down enough for him/her to be taught what to do.)

-A time-out does nothing, NOTHING, to change behavior on its own.

-The point of time-out is NOT to punish, but to give them opportunity to calm down enough "for you to teach them what to do."

-Should be used sparingly.

Steps of Proper, Effective, Time-Out: 
1. Select a safe place with no distraction.
2. Begin only when the child is quiet and calm-no back-and-forth arguing.
3. Use a time (one minute per year of age).
4. Most important step-child must do FOUR things:
-Tell you what he did wrong.
-Give sincere apology.
-Tell you what he should have done instead.
-Role-play the situation.  (Act out what he should have done.)

+If child cannot do this, start again (one minute per year of child.)

(More explanation in book.)

3. Logical Consequences
(Teach a child what to do, instead of simple correction.  Logical consequences are a short-circuit to enforce compliance.)

-Word "consequence" means "with order".

-Don't think -'what can I do to him/her to make him never do this again?' but 'what must my child do to clean up the mess (literally and figuratively) and learn what to do instead?'

-Effective Christian parent-Love the child, leave him to experience and overcome sad consequences of behavior, and give him opportunity to try again.

-A logical consequence is not something parent adds on to "tech my kid a lesson" but what child must do to
a. correct the immediate effects of action or choice
b. learn what to do instead
c. practice virtue he was lacking in first place

Examples (lots more in book):
-child who breaks something must practice responsibility by be given a way to fix it, replace it, or work off debt.

-a child who talks back disrespectfully must practice respect by restating himself respectfully.

-a child who does not complete homework/chores must practice self-discipline by being given structure that teaches him to manage time (must be required to complete chores/homework before eating, sleeping, playing, going anywhere.)

-Remember discipline requires justice-doing no more and less to effect the change -make sure consequence makes sense and are fair.

Three steps to compliance:
1. Tell child what request, limit, rule is.  (See previous chapter for posting clear rules.)
2. Tell child what consequence for not obeying is.
3. Leave him alone.  If child doesn't comply, let the consequence do the talking.

4. Positive Inventions
(when behavior is resistant to change get to the heart of the problem)

-Children sometimes misbehave because they don't know how to get needs met, or most important wants.

-Child lacks the skills to do anything different-if don't have skill to complete homework, teach healthy study skills, or gets in fights-teach how to resolve conflicts etc.
(book contains worksheet-what is child "getting out" of their behavior-maybe attention of parents, etc.)

5. Solution Focused Questions
(Ask ?'s to Find Solution to Problem)
-Take time to talk and listen-ask solution-focused questions instead of problem-focused questions.  i.e.-"How many times have I told you..." vs. "What can I do to help you remember?  Let's come up with a plan."

"Why doesn't he ever listen/do his homework?"  vs. "What is different about the times he fulfills his responsibilites?  How can we take advantage of that difference to increase his compliance?"

-Parents are figuring out (by conversation and observation) what is at the heart of the problem-find possibilities for better behavior such as-"on the days Johnny behaves better he eats less sugar, gets a full eight hours of sleep, does his homework immediately after school and Mom and Dad as opposed to a sitter supervises all of this."  "kids fight less when we get one on one time with them during the week" etc.

6. A New Twist on Grounding
(When child is abusing privilege or unable to resist peer pressure, grounding or restrictions can be opportunity to teach)

-Stop using grounding as "prison"-use it as acknowledgement that child needs to be "grounded" in love of the family.

-"Summer school" for developing life skills not serving time in family pokey.

-"You are obviously having a hard time handling the responsibility I am giving you.  I am going to spend the next few weeks working with you to learn how to handle yourself better."

-Then break down task into two to four steps to "ease" off grounding.  If child show competence each week, then child gets to portion of his privileges restored and then works on next step...until he has mastered development of skills.

7. Restricting Privileges
(Provides motivation for practicing a skill of virtue.)

-Suspending a privilege for a period of time will NOT magically produce good behavior.

-Privileges and cherished items (cell phones, toys, video games, etc.) should only be taken away if children are abusing those things, not as punishment for something else-remember-LOGICAL consequences.

-The passage of time should be determined by meeting the requirement that shows he is capable of displaying the qualities of virtues necessary to handle the object or privilege before getting it back.

-Give child several days to struggle, fail, learn and succeed before his progress is evaluated.

8. Token Economics
(Reinforce positive behavior and virtues.)

-Authors not huge fan of star charts and reward based systems because they tend to cultivate a "what's in it for me" attitude.

-They can be a good way to "catch children being good"-do it to build a virtue instead of just a specific behavior.

-Let reward be special time with you rather than a toy or privilege.

-This is good for 3 reasons:
1. Gives parent opportunity to reinforce good behavior (5 to 1 ratio!)
2. Practices virtues.
3. Leads child to closer relationship with parent.

9. Practicing
(When a child is capable of exhibiting a particular behavior but repeatedly chooses not to and is resistant to all other attempts to change behavior.)

-Technique should be used rarely, last resort method, try everything else first, should not be used in a spiteful way, but a positive way to practice desired behavior, expends a large amount of emotional "dollars", but has powerful effect on behavior.  Most effective 10 and under, but could be used with younger teens.

-Uses example of a boy who refused to get ready in timely manner in morning in spite of all other methods.
Mom decides to practice on Saturday morning, using a timer, she knew from observation that he could get ready in 20 minutes on good days.  Told him they were going to have a "getting-ready-for-school practice." He had to do it four times in a row in 20 minutes to be successful.  She acted like an excited coach, not a mean drill sergeant.

10. Physical Redirection
(Technique used with younger children to assure compliance and decrease arguing over certain tasks when all over methods fail.)

-Physically "help" the child do a task that he refuses to do-gently but firmly take his/her hands and guide them to pick up the blocks, put his clothes in dresser, etc.  Should be used super rarely.

-Not to be used in an aggressive or threatening way-you are going to lead the reluctant child through the task.  Ask him if he wants to do it on his own now, or if he wants you to lead him again.

Making A Change, An Exercise:
1. Identify behavior you want to change.
2. Have you addressed the problem by using everyday discipline? (Be consistent, and give it time.)
3. Circle the corrective-discipline techniques you think might help. (Those above.)
4. Write how you will specifically use these techniques.
5. Talk to your child about what you are gong to do...write your plan down.
6. Give it two weeks, being consistent.
"...good discipline is less about what you DO to a child to MAKE him behave than it is what you SHARE with a child that increases his desire to make a gift of his good behavior."

Books recommended:


  1. Really love this summary. Lots of great ideas there. Thanks.

  2. I am really enjoying your summaries - I have forwarded them on to my daughters to read to.

  3. Thanks so much for taking the time to do this. My daughter delivered her first child (our first grandchild) last Monday. I saw your posts and she already has a copy of this book in hand!

  4. This is fantastic stuff, Sarah - thank you for the write-up!

  5. Reading these summaries has convinced me I need this book! Thank you!

  6. I love this post and are so happy you are doing this series. PWG is one of my go-to books that I reference all the time. I especially love how he talk about time-out and loss of privledges are ineffective without the proper teaching instruction. I hear so many friends say thngs like "I keep putting him in time-out or taking away stuff and they stll keep doing x"

    I hope you don't mind if I share, but I wrote my own post on gentle discipline yesterday,http://onecatholicmama.blogspot.com/2014/02/discipline-without-lot-of-punishment.html