There are many verses in the Bible about the rod of discipline, and all throughout my childhood I heard this phrase, “Spare the rod, spoil the child.” What this meant was that if you didn’t spank your children, you would ruin them. But this doesn’t mean that spanking is our only option for discipline. There are other ways to give consequences, and other ways to remove foolishness from our children. Actually, when we think about consequences adults get for their choices, very few of them involve physical pain. This means we can give our children consequences that will be much more like real life than a spanking will.
The “no fun chair” is one method that we use in our home that has had a lot of success. We make sure that the location of the chair isn’t isolating for the child. We don’t want them far off in another room or in a corner somewhere feeling worse than they should for the situation. We want them to be in the room with us feeling somewhat present. They should feel separate enough to gather themselves, but we also don’t want them to feel ashamed.
We use this method a lot for whining. If one of our kids is having a bad day and starts whining, I’ll say in a very calm tone, “I would love to talk about this but only once your voice sounds like mine. Are you able to talk in a voice like mine or do you need a minute?” Sometimes they’re able to instantly come down and have a conversation in a calm tone of voice. Other times they need some time and that’s okay. If they’re struggling, I’ll have them go to the no fun chair, because whining is no fun in our house.
They can sit there for as long as they need. If they’ve sat there for as long as 10 minutes, I’ve probably gone and checked on them a few times to see if they were ready to come back and have a calm conversation with me. Even if they’ve only been there for 10 seconds, if they say they’re ready, by all means, they can leave the chair. They don’t need to stay there longer for a punishment if they’re ready to change.
With our 18 month old, it’s a bit different. If he’s yelling or screaming, as babies do from time to time, I’ll say, “Fun or crib?” If he doesn’t stop whining, I’ll set him down in the crib and say with a soft voice, “Buddy, when you’re ready to have a happy heart and a happy voice, you can come back and play.” I don’t leave him there for more than a couple of minutes, but this way, he’s starting to learn the concept behind the no fun chair before he even is old enough to sit in it.