Have consistent fun this summer
The power of the three strike rule
By Randy Cale, PH.D
I often work with parents who are struggling with their child’s behavior. Many get frustrated with how hard they work to create summertime fun, while their kids whine, complain and even throw tantrums.
Here’s a good test to find out how enjoyable your summer will be. Just ask yourself this:
“How often does it feel like I am working harder at my children’s enjoyment than they are?”
If your answer is “often”, then you may want to seek a change.
“How often do child behaviors (e.g., whining, crying, tantrums, complaints, upsets, etc.) get in the way of enjoying a family outing?”
Again, if this is true for you, then perhaps a change is needed. I suggest you consider my Three Strike Rule.
The Three Strike Rule
The Three Strike Rule gives you an amazing formula that honors your role as a parent, honors your child’s inherent capacity to learn and ultimately honors everyone’s right to enjoy fun outings and family vacations.
Explain to your children that you have established a general rule for all family outings and that there are specific positive behaviors you expect in public. If they bring those positive behaviors with them, everything will go fine.
Explain the types of behaviors that will get them in trouble—fighting between siblings, screaming, yelling, incessant whining and complaining, any form of disrespect, property destruction or not listening to mom or dad.
This is how the Three Strike Rule works:
Strike One: The first time the children get out of control, you simply let them know it’s Strike One. “We are going to take a break.”
Regardless of what you are doing or what you are engaged in, take your children by the hand and walk to a bench, your car or an area out of the way, where you can sit quietly. It has a very powerful effect because of the boredom factor. Let them know that once they are perfectly quiet, it will be five minutes before anyone leaves or moves. If they want to talk, let them know the five minutes starts over again.
Once the five minutes is up, you can return to your swimming, playing, shopping or dinning experience.
Strike Two: After you return to whatever recreation you were doing, continue on as if nothing had happened. However, if the children’s behavior is over the line that you have established, you now announce, “Strike Two. We are going to take another break.”
Again, drop what you are doing and take a timeout with the kids. Only after there is quiet for five minutes do you return.
Strike Three: While it will be unusual for you to get to Strike Three, it sometimes happens. When you reach Strike Three, you let the children know that you are done for the day. Wherever you are or whatever you are doing, pack it up and you head home. As you get to the car, make sure that you take another five minute timeout before the car moves. This may take awhile, as there may be a lot of whining, complaining or outbursts. Just let them have these moments and wait for the five minutes of silence.
You then return home. If you are at Disney World you go back to your hotel room. If you are at a restaurant take the food to go or simply leave it on the table and pay on the way out.
It is essential not to get too concerned about the drama that you will see when you follow through with the Three Strike Rule. Make sure you do not get pulled into the drama. Allow them to have it and just stick to your guns on the consequences. The magic is not in the threat of the third strike. It is in the experience of feeling the effects of the third strike!
Stick to the simplicity of this plan and don’t be afraid to follow through. By the time your real summer fun begins, the kids will be on track.
Dr. Randy Cale, a Clifton Park based parenting expert, author, speaker and licensed psychologist, offers practical guidance for a host of parenting concerns. Dr. Cale’s new website, www.TerrificParenting.com offers valuable free parenting information and an e-mail newsletter.