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How Moms Discipline Kids When They're Not Home Much

Being a working mom can be tricky even on the best of days – and a call from a sobbing, sniffling toddler can break your heart. But for me, when it comes to discipline, consistency, compassion and good teamwork with a caregiver makes all the difference...

Steal these successful mothers' tricks for coping with naughty behavior.


By Irene Chang, Working Mother

Q: How do you discipline your children when you’re not home much?

[post_ads]When my husband, Kyle, and I were first married, we agreed that we would share the responsibility of disciplining our future children. After the birth of our daughter, Isabella, I soon realized that my husband was completely and utterly taken by Isabella’s charm, and that the day-to-day disciplining would be left up to me. I really didn’t mind taking on the primary role as the disciplinarian, at first. But then came the terrible two’s. No one tells you what to really expect. That’s probably because it is a very different experience with each child. Isabella, a very precocious child, did not have temper tantrums, nor did she bite her classmates at daycare. Instead, Isabella would try to go toe-to-toe with me and challenged everything that I said. While this was quite adorable at first, it grew very tiring after a long day at work.

[post_ads]Fortunately, Isabella responded well when put into “time-outs” for misbehaving. This gave her (and me) some cooling off time so that we could talk about how she was behaving and why it was wrong. Time-outs were great because I didn’t need to raise my voice, and the punishment wasn’t so severe that I felt guilty when I had to discipline her. I found that Isabella responded well to this form of discipline, and in fact, she would sometimes even put herself in time-out! Unfortunately, time-outs have not been as effective with my son, Sebastian. He went into the terrible two’s with a vengeance starting at 18 months. Fortunately, my husband, although completely enamored with our son, has broken from the spell our daughter placed on him years ago, and now plays a more active role in the discipline arena. Together, we are finding what works best with Sebastian’s more rambunctious temperament—disciplining him with confidence, patience and love.

Tina Klocke Chief Financial Bear, Treasurer and Secretary Build-A-Bear, Inc. Children: Jimmy, 20, Michael, 8


My husband, Jim, and I use a “pay for performance” approach to discipling our younger son, Michael. Jim and I are both CPA’s and both in finance and accounting careers, so I guess it only makes sense that we use numbers to help reinforce positive behavior in Michael.

[post_ads]Our view is that to make discipline work, you need partnership, consistency, and simplicity. Our ‘pay for performance’ approach has all three elements. The partnership starts with Michael’s second grade teacher, Ms. Maurer. We stay in contact with Ms. Maurer via daily email messages; she lets us know about Michael’s day at school and we keep her informed about what’s happening at home. She informs us of any discipline issues that come up, but also shares funny things Michael says or does during the day – I love Ms. Maurer and I love email! So this is how “pay for performance” works: Michael’s teacher keeps “score” of his behavior each day using a tally to record any problems. Now for the “pay” part: Each evening Michael brings home his tally sheet for our review; for each day without a tally Michael receives a quarter. When there is a tally, the result is the loss of two quarters. In addition, during special times (such as his birthday week) we increase the reward to two quarters. We keep a bowl on the kitchen counter for Michael’s quarters. The reward at the end of the month is using his “performance” fund to buy something special – which usually involves a visit to Build-A-Bear Workshop!

While I’d like to think my children, Olivia and Ava, are perfect angels all the time, there are moments when their frustrations get the best of them. My husband, Billy, and I have been incredibly fortunate to have the same caregiver with our family for almost six years, and she is terrific at moderating the minor skirmishes. But for more significant battles, she knows that she can always include me in the discipline process during the day by phone.
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At their ages, I think it’s important that we talk about problems when they happen – it’s tricky to talk to a 3-year-old about something that happened hours ago once mommy gets home. And I have a pretty steadfast rule in the office that I will drop anything to referee an argument at home. To me, the phrase “wait till your mother gets home” sounds a bit out-dated, and could create unnecessary anxiety for a child. As a follow-up to the afternoon call, we then will talk more about what happened when I get home. That’s the time for offering another round of understanding words, a more thorough explanation of the consequences, and an all-important hug and kiss. It’s also an opportunity for my husband to weigh in.

Being a working mom can be tricky even on the best of days – and a call from a sobbing, sniffling toddler can break your heart. But for me, when it comes to discipline, consistency, compassion and good teamwork with a caregiver makes all the difference.

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Lifestyle Magazine: How Moms Discipline Kids When They're Not Home Much
How Moms Discipline Kids When They're Not Home Much
Being a working mom can be tricky even on the best of days – and a call from a sobbing, sniffling toddler can break your heart. But for me, when it comes to discipline, consistency, compassion and good teamwork with a caregiver makes all the difference...
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