Discipline and Motivation

I spent the majority of Memorial Day at the neighborhood pool with my family. One family there consisted of a father, a young three-year-old boy, and the grandmother. The boy vehemently did not want to go into the water. Every time his father tried to get him in the pool, the boy shrieked and cried.

Frustrated, the father picked the boy up, forcibly put him in the water, and said, “You’re going in the pool whether you like it or not.” The boy cried and ran out of the water.

The father tried to calm down and bribe the boy, “Look, we’re here for you. So if you get in the pool, we’ll go out for a treat afterwards.” The boy cried even louder.

The father, about ready to give up, then declared. “I’m giving you till the count of three. If you’re not in the pool by then, we’re going home.” The boy sat a good six feet from the edge of the pool and continued to cry. All the father’s attempts at discipline and coercion were obviously not working.

Just then, the astute grandmother, who was in the water the entire time, went to the edge of the pool nearest the boy. She started softly singing a song about a boy swimming in the water, just loud enough for her grandson to notice.

The boy, drawn to his grandmother’s singing, inched his way to the edge of the pool. As soon as he was next to his grandmother, she stopped singing.

“More,” the boy said. “I want to sing too.”

“Of course you can sing with me,” the grandmother said with a big smile, “but this is a special song you only sing in the water.”

With that, the boy jumped into the pool, hugged onto his grandmother, and sang the song with her. He stayed in the water, tear-free, for the next hour.

The best discipline has nothing to do with yelling, bribing, or threatening. It’s about creating motivation to get the child to want to do what you desire. Figure out what motivates your child, and you’ll never have to discipline again.

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