I hear many parents say, “I hate my kids’ phone.” I’m a bit different. I’m glad my kids have a phone. Why? As parents we now have a lever for discipline. Our boys responded differently to different punishments. If our oldest son misbehaved a simple STARE DOWN would send him into tears. We rarely had to give him a swat on the behind for punishment. Meanwhile, our second son would stick his butt out and ready himself for a swat only to misbehave again shortly after. It was his non-verbal taunting that dared, “Bring it on, Daddy.” Clearly a spanking wasn’t the answer since he didn’t mind them, nor would he change his behavior. After numerous trials and failures (timeouts, no treats etc.) we eventually found what rocked his world and brought the reform in his behavior we were looking for. It was the car seat. We had an extra one in our basement. Having to stay in one place secured with a five-point harness was so awful in his mind that it allowed him to reconsider his behavior. The extra car seat in the basement, became our “time out” or “thinking” chair, so to speak. Our middle man sure did not like it much. But soon, all we had to do was mention that his next move was to the car seat in the basement, and he would seriously reconsider his actions…. immediately.
It was such a hard task as young parents to continue to guess what “lever” would bring the reform that was necessary. Now that all our boys are teenagers, all of the boys have the same “lever” — their phone. Their phone is a privilege NOT a right. It is in their possession for our convenience, not theirs. Now when boys “stray away” from doing the right thing, we can limit or take away the phone. At least in this one regard a phone can be used as a parenting tool instead of a source of frustration.