• Yesterday afternoon, I was over my friend Rochelle’s house working on a business proposal for an internet venture we plan to launch this summer. We were three hours into our work when her two children, ages seven and ten, got dropped off from carpool after school. They ran into the house, dumped their backpacks just past the threshold, in the middle of the hallway, and were off searching throughout the house, without even saying hello. They were on a mission, turning over sofa cushions, looking under furniture and rummaging through drawers. I was sure that they had lost something. It was bizarre, but none the less we tried to go back to work. After about ten minutes, I heard the television go on. Charlotte got up, stomped toward the televisions area and yelled, ” I told you guys, no television until after you finish your homework!” And me being nosy, I had to follow her into the TV room. There, I saw her tangled with her ten year-old son, struggling to retrieve the remote control from him, while her seven year-old was sitting quietly on the couch, unfazed, completely entranced by his hand-held video game as if nothing was going on. Obviously, this was nothing new to him. But man, what a sight!

    It was sort of entertaining but in a very sad way. I could never picture myself wrestling with my kids like that. I don’t play that game. So, I gathered my things and left, so she could tend to her children. Of course, later that evening, I couldn’t hold my tongue and spoke to Rochelle about the incident. The gist of our conversation went as follows: I explained to her that I don’t believe in turning discipline into a game. Hiding remote controls, electronic devices, candies, etc., only turns it into a treasure hunt for the children whereby they don’t learn consequences. Plus kids will eventually find the items, are better at hiding things than you and you can’t keep up this game the rest of your life. It’s tiring and encourages children to be deceitful and want to keep things away from you. That’s when you find a bunch of empty candy wrappers hidden under your child’s bed when you’re doing spring cleaning. The more you try to keep things away from children, the more desirable an object becomes.

    The solution is a little time consuming in the beginning but will save you energy, frustration and discipline in the long run. Plus, you won’t look foolish rolling around on the floor with your children unless it really is playtime. I believe in leaving things accessible and discussing the rules and consequences with my children. This is more reflective of real life and does away with the whole “Hide and Seek” component. The rules are clear and they get a chance to practice restraint, time-management and responsibility for their own behavior. I set the limits, convey my expectations and am consistent with making sure that they are being followed. It’s easier said than done, but well worth the effort!