As a programmer by trade, I often have to solve logic and mathematical problems. Since kids are pretty rational, logical beings, I figure this type of thinking transfers over. Therefore, I've come up with something I like to call the 'Discipline Wave.' On a side note, don't even think of stealing the term or my lawyers will contact you and make you help pay my kids college tuition… or not, but if I were you I wouldn't want to find out.
The Discipline Wave looks very much like a sine wave, where the amplitude (think peaks and valleys) ranges from 1 to -1, and the wavelength (distance between peaks and valleys) is relatively stable. This can best be illustrated by graph 1.1 below.
As you can see, the level of discipline fluctuates over time. Starting out, kids are just learning to test their boundaries, but require a minimal amount of discipline. Then, as time goes by, the child pushes back a bit harder and soon reaches 1 full unit of discipline. However, soon the child learns the error of his or her ways, and begins to require less discipline… perhaps even to the point of volunteering to pick up toys and staying calm and collected at all times. This is the ideal, and the point on the graph where the Discipline Wave is at -1.
But, as any parent knows, eventually the Discipline Wave must swing back into the positive. The key is to maximize the time between the peaks and valleys (preferably measured in months instead of days). It's at this time that I admit I have relatively no idea how to accomplish the goal of lengthening time from peak to peak. If I did, I wouldn't be writing this blog. Instead I would be making millions of dollars teaching parents how to discipline their children.
The one thing I do know is that consistency is key. It helps to stabilize the situation, and has good medium term results. However, kids are complex little creatures, and always manage to throw another variable into the mix!