Hello and welcome to a strange new world. You have traveled far through the desert, only to be met time and again by one empty oasis after another. You are lost and alone, wandering, wondering if someone, anyone, knows how you feel. And just when you think you can't go on, and no one could possibly understand your struggle, a hand reaches out to you, lifts you to your feet, and carries you to the promised land. He feeds you knowledge, shelters you from the self-righteous (and the ridiculous), and provides you with the tools you need to survive in this brave new world. You are a stranger in a strange land, but you are not alone. Let him be your guide. Follow closely as you travel together on this adventure of a lifetime. For now, you are a foreigner to "Fatherhood" but soon YOU will be the master of this realm.

"No Man is Expendable!"

This is Fodder 4 Fathers...


If there’s one law I live by its Murphy’s Law: simply put, “whatever can go wrong will go wrong.” It’s how I keep my sanity as a parent. I don’t expect everything to run like clockwork because- the truth is- it rarely ever does. Children are unpredictable. They are wild cards. They change from minute to minute without a seconds notice and this keeps you constantly on your toes. 

Some parents accept this and try to their best to anticipate meltdowns before they happen. Others try to correct meltdowns after they happen. Regardless, tantrums, “bad” behavior and insolence come with the territory and you have to deal with them.  Now, I know, dealing with a screaming, whining, demanding child is more than most parents of young children can handle, but I’m not so sure sticking them in a corner, hoping their “bad” behavior will go way is really the best way to discipline a young child. 

I’m talking about Time-outs. I’ve tried them on my daughter, they don’t work for me. Now, I know what you’re going to say, “You’re probably not doing it properly,” but I’m not the only one who has tried to use this method of discipline on my little girl to no avail. Hell, my daycare provider says my daughter holds the record for the number of time-outs in one day (9) and all that says is maybe my daughter’s not “time-out” material. 

No, I’m not going to use corporal punishment on her. I had it done to me as a child and I know it just made my resolve to piss my parents off stronger. No, I’m not going to take her to therapy to find out what’s “bothering” her – she’s a kid and she wants to do whatever she wants to do, but we don’t let her (duh?).  So where does that leave me: shock collars; bribery; a trip to a penitentiary to show my 2-year-old where her actions will be leading her? 

No, it leaves me trying to find alternatives that work for MY child. Now, I’d like to say I have all the time in the world to do that kind of research, but I don’t. So we’re open to suggestions. Please tell us what methods you’ve tried to discipline your child: what’s worked and what has not. Feel free to share any links to books, or websites, or flow charts that show exactly what your method of choice entails. We appreciate your help with this. It’s bad enough that I spent most of my formative years sitting in a Vice Principals office for “behavior unbefitting a child.” Please don’t let this happen to my child. We welcome all advice (on this topic). 

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  1. The last 3 years I'm with my children doing the "Positive .Time-Out", don't let them alone while it happens. Like Jane Nelsen advises in Positive Discipline Parenting Tools. And it works, because I make them think, with me, about what leads to that siuation, and it should be in a nice place, chosen by them: "People do better, when they feel better". Maria

  2. Timeouts don't work because all it is is blatant punishment (which never creates anything positive except for the feeling of having gotten even with your kid). The best solutions are outlined in my book LOVE, LIMITS & LESSONS: A PARENT'S GUIDE TO RAISING COOPERATIVE KIDS (http://www.CooperativeKids.com). Evolve into a proactive parent who uses visual timers and preplanned boundaries, or just let the meltdowns and tantrums happen. The more often we don't respond to a meltdown, the more likely they will subside.

  3. Short answer – there is no parenting tool that will work with every child, in every situation, every time. I encourage parents to take their favorite parenting tools (we all have tools passed on from our caregivers, whether we like it or not) and adapt them to fit their parenting goals, their child's unique qualities and the situation.

    Parenting is the ultimate in personal development, so you know at least part of the puzzle with any parenting challenge is going to involve your own learning and growth, but there are also plenty of situations where you're being a great parent and your child is just having a bad moment.

    My rules for tools:

    Be clear - about your expectations/the rule, the consequences for not listening, what you want your child to learn, etc., and be sure to share them with those involved.

    Be calm - the moment you lose it your child experiences a wonderful taste of power – even if it is scary when it happens. Put your energy into keeping your emotions in check or you'll be promoting future power struggles.

    Be consistent – do what you said you were going to do when your child misbehaves (asap). Don't change your mind mid-stride because your child is now cooperating – if your consequences were fair there is no need to feel bad about them.

    Be creative – give yourself permission to adapt tools to fit your needs, rather than blindly following 'expert' advice. You know your situation better than anybody else – have fun with that!

    Be caring – when your child likes you she doesn’t want to disappoint you if she can help it. Save the parent voice for when you're being ignored, choose your battles wisely and play nice the majority of the time.

    In case you struggle with the creative part (you strike me as a very creative guy, but sometimes figuring out how to adapt parenting tools takes some help to get things going) I provide a whole section on it in my book Break Free of Parenting Pressures. I also have plenty of resources on my site to help parents understand there is no right & wrong in parenting, why we yell, why discipline is so hard to do (and what we can do about it), etc.


    Best of luck with your current 'time-out' challenger and your future bundle of joy!