The Jones family was very excited. They had just finished planning a day at the beach. Seven-year-old Jason and five-year-old Jenny had promised they wouldn’t fight. Mr. Jones, warned, “If you do, we’ll turn around and come back.” “We won’t, we won’t,” promised Jason and Jenny again.
The Jones family hadn’t gone two miles when a loud wail was heard from the back seat, “Jason hit me.”
Mrs. Jones said, “What did we tell you kids about fighting?”
Jason defended himself, “Well, she touched me.”
Mr. Jones threatened, “You two had better cut it out, or we are going home.”
The children cried out it unison, “Nooooooo! We’ll be good.”
And they were—for about ten minutes. Then, another wail was heard, “He took my red crayon.”
Jason replied, “Well she was hogging it. It’s my turn.”
Mr. Jones said, “Do you want me to turn around and go home?”
“Nooooooo. We’ll be good.”
And so the story goes. Throughout the day Jason and Jenny fought, and Mr. and Mrs. Jones made threats. At the end of the day, Mom and Dad were angry and threatened never to take the kids anywhere again. Jason and Jenny felt guilty that they had made their parents so miserable. They were beginning to believe they really are bad kids.
Now let’s visit the Smith family. They have just planned their trip to the zoo during their weekly family meeting. Part of the planning included a discussion about limits and solutions. Mom and Dad informed Susan and Sam how miserable they feel when they fight. The kids promised they won’t. Mr. Smith said, “I appreciate that, and lets come up with a plan for what will happen if you forget.” Mr. and Mrs. Smith know their children have good intentions, and they are also very familiar with the pattern of good intentions gone awry. So, they decided what they would do. Dad said, “We don’t think it is safe to drive when you are fighting, so we’ll just pull over to the side of the road and wait for you to stop. When we hear from both of you that are ready to stop fighting, we’ll drive again. How do you feel about that solution?” Both kids agreed with innocent enthusiasm.
It didn’t take them long to forget their promise, and a fight began. Mom quickly pulled off to the side of the road. Mom and Dad took out magazines and started reading. Each child blamed the other while whining about their innocence. Mom and Dad ignored them and kept reading. It didn’t take long for Susan to catch on that Mom and Dad must mean what they said, so she said, “Okay, we are ready to keep driving.” Dad said, “We’ll wait until we hear it from both of you.” Sam said, “But, she hit me.”
Mom and Dad just kept reading. Susan hit Sam, “Tell them you are ready.” Sam cried, “She hit me again.” Mom and Dad just kept reading. Susan realized that hitting Sam wouldn’t help, so she tried to reason with him. “We’ll have to sit here forever if you don’t say you are ready.” Then Susan followed her parents lead and started to color. Sam held out for about three more minutes before saying, “I’m ready for you to start driving.” Mom said, “Thank you very much. I appreciate your cooperation.”

About 30 minutes later another fight began. Mom started to pull over without saying a word. Both kids cried out in unison. “We’ll stop. We’re ready to keep driving.” There was no more fighting for the rest of the day, and the Smiths enjoyed a wonderful day at the zoo.
What is the difference between the Jones family and the Smith family? Are Jason and Jenny really “bad” kid?.” No, the difference is that the Smiths are helping their children learn cooperation and problem solving skills while the Jones are helping their children learn manipulation skills. Mr. and Mrs. Smith demonstrate that they say what they mean and mean what they say by using kind and firm follow through. Mr. and Mrs. Jones don’t. They use angry threats but never follow through.
Mr. & Mrs. Jones heard about “decide what you will do and follow through with kind and firm action” and decided to stop using idle threats. Because Jason and Jenny are kids, they just had to test the waters. When their parents consistently used kind and firm follow, the kids learned they meant what they said. They were left with the feeling, not that they were bad kids, but that they were clever enough to figure out a solution to the problem and that cooperation was the most effective alternative.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Jane Nelsen is the author and co-author of 18 books including the best selling (over two million sold) Positive Discipline series including Positive Discipline for Preschoolers, Positive Discipline for Teenagers, and Positive Discipline A-Z. Jane claims her formal education is secondary to the education and experience she achieved from her successes and failures as a mother of seven children (and 20 grandchildren). She now shares this wealth of knowledge and experience as a popular keynote speaker and workshop leader throughout the country. She has appeared on Oprah, Sally Jessy Raphael, and Twin Cities Live, CBS This Morning, and is quoted often in popular parenting magazines.