Communication is key in any good relationship, and we usually talk about it when it has to do with couples and other adult relationships. But it’s important to have good communication with your child, too, especially when it comes to discipline.
As a parent, it can be incredibly challenging getting your kids to do what you want them to do. But these eight fun games help discipline your child. And the best part? They won’t even notice!
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Turn chore time into story time
Clearing off the dinner table, washing the dishes, or tidying the bedroom are usually the last thing any child wants to do. But can you help them write a made-up story while they do it?
Stories are an incredibly powerful way to discipline children almost effortlessly. It just takes a bit of present-moment mindfulness and engagement on your part. And you’ll be glad to hear that it usually doesn’t take much to get children to come along for the ride.
According to Susan Heitler, Ph.D., stories are a great way to prevent and distract kids, while also raising their “internal motivation to make a change.”
For example, you can start a story saying, “Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess (or prince), who had to help the dishes find their way to the dishwasher.”
By helping your kids use their imaginations, they can look at chores in an entirely different way. What’s more, it’s a fun way to get chores done while keeping everyone smiling and maybe even laughing.
Follow the leader for transition periods
Imagine you’re watching your favorite episode on Netflix, and someone strolls in telling you it’s time to turn it off and clean your room. That’s no fun, now is it? It’s not so different with your kids. In fact, it can be really hard for them to make a smooth and conflict-free transition from one activity to the next.
To make it easier, make it a playful game of Follow the Leader. You and your child can take turns being the leader, and whoever leads has to be the goofiest leader imaginable. Funny steps, hops, and dance moves are all welcome.
Speed race checklists
Is it a struggle to get your kid ready, and out the door for school, or for their extracurricular activities? It’s enough to make a patient mom lose all her cool. But instead of nagging your child to do something they probably won’t do anyway, give them a challenge. And that’s something they’ll probably want to do.
For example, come up with a checklist of everything he or she needs to do before you can leave. Then, tell your child everything has to get checked off in 20 seconds, or 60 seconds, or however long you think is a reasonable amount of time.
Games that increase focus and attention
As a mom, you probably know what it’s like when your child “doesn’t” hear you. Or, when they hear you, but don’t listen to you. It can be downright maddening, but there are proactive games you can play with your child to help increase their focus and attention.
For example, try the drawing game. Both you and your child have blank pieces of paper, and a pen or pencil. The goal of the game is for you and your child to draw the same image.
But here’s the catch: don’t let your child see what you’re drawing. Instead, give your child very specific and detailed instructions on how to make the same image you’re making.
This helps the child really focus on what you’re saying, and it can translate to everyday instructions, like “It’s time to turn off the TV”, or “Brush your teeth,” or “Make your bed”, etc.
Table manners and tea time
Mealtime may be one of the few occasions for the entire family to sit together, but what happens when your children are off the walls and misbehaving the entire time? It makes dinner stressful, frustrating and even a source of anger.
To avoid this, have imaginary dinner parties with you, your child and his or her favorite stuff animals or toys. During the dinner party, take turns showing the dinner guests how they should behave.
Then, when it’s time for dinner with the rest of the family, remind your child to think of those special dinner parties and the good behavior you both practiced.
Games that help children express anger safely
For children, it can be challenging to cope with negative emotions. They can be overwhelming for children, especially anger. But instead of punishing your child for their anger – which is a completely natural emotion to feel – be proactive and come up with games that help your child engage with their anger at the moment it arises.
For example, some things to try are drawing, painting or coloring their anger on a page. They can also play with play dough to work through their feelings. You can also “Blow the anger away” with blowing bubbles.
Not only is it a good way to defuse and calm down after an angry episode, but it also gives your child deep breathing skills that help them relax with every inhale and exhale.
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Usually, children know when they’re misbehaving – they don’t need you to tell them that. But what they do need from you is the reminder that they can and should do better. So, when you see your kid acting up, tell them, “Please make a different choice.”
This shows that their first choice wasn’t a good one. But even more importantly, it shows that you believe in them, and their ability to do better. It gives your child the opportunity to take control of the situation and improve it.
Make discipline games a routine
It may come as a surprise to you, but children actually really like to have routines. It provides a sense of security and certainty. So, if you try one of these discipline games and find that it really resonates with your child, keep on doing it!
Your child may or may not realize they’re playing games. But it doesn’t really matter. You know that these activities help to turn good behavior into automatic behavior. And isn’t that what every mom (and dad) wants?