Monday, January 26, 2009

Discipline - Are You Good Cop or Bad Cop?

Photo by Jason Clapp (CLAPP Photography)

Yesterday, we were at lunch with a friend of ours (who doesn't have kids). There was some minor issue with HB requiring a stern tone -- nothing out of the ordinary. Our friend watched as we dealt with this, and then asked me and my husband, "Which one of you is good cop, and which one is bad cop?"

I thought this was a very puzzling question.

I pondered it for a few minutes, and then said, "Neither of us are bad cop. The *rules* are the bad cop."

I really believe that children can be raised without psychological warfare. There is no need for good cop or bad cop. Nor would I want either of us to have to play the "bad cop"role with our daughter. How could we choose a discipline style which would require one of us to perhaps permanently mar our relationship with our little girl? How would you choose which one of you that would be? I really think it is unfair to your spouse to shun your disciplinary responsibilities simply because discipline is an unpleasantry that you are unwilling to implement. The days of, "just wait until your father gets home...", are hopefully long gone.

That's why, if anyone has to be the bad guy in our household, it's "the Rules".

"I'm really sorry, honey, but those are the rules." "I know it would be fun to stay up and play, but it's 7:30 and it's bedtime, and those are the rules." "I know that you're sad, but you threw your toy, and so now I have to take it away. Those are the rules."

This allows you to be empathetic to their feelings, yet still follow through on the discipline -- without playing bad cop.

Admittedly, this works really well because my husband and I are absolutely on the same page about discipline. The rules are the same whether you are talking to mommy or daddy. That's key!

A recent Momversation episode dealt with discipline and generated some good discussion. So, I'm interested to hear from you. How do you deal with discipline with your kids? Is it a team effort, or is one of you a stronger disciplinarian than the other? How do you feel about this division of responsibilities?

Related Posts:
Toddler Discipline
Be the Voiceover for Your Kids' Lives
Better Than Saying Goodnight

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