The 2X-Rule

by Sarah Chana Radcliffe, M.Ed., C.Psych.

No More Yelling

The quiet home uses quiet discipline. Discipline-meaning “teaching”-is a small but important part of childrearing. While helping children to operate within the world of boundaries and limitations, it also leads to character refinement and emotional health. The disciplined child knows when to stop an activity, where to draw a line and how to cooperate in a graceful and pleasing manner. Such a child is easier to like and even to love. As a result, the well-disciplined youngster enjoys a more positive relationship with parents, teachers and peers.

Quiet discipline is the art of guiding children with respect and dignity. It models self-control even as it teaches the same trait. The quiet disciplinarian remains adult, caring, firm and reasonable. He or she greets the limit-testing child with patience and a good plan. Limit-testing, a necessary developmental task, helps children and teenagers learn about social relationships, the physical world, cultural standards and religious values. Kids need to know whether or not they can punch each other, use bad language, eat with their hands, neglect their chores, steal or engage in any other kind of activity. Parental instruction helps them learn about life, as does the parental model. However, personal experience is the most powerful teacher. Sure Mom says that bed-time is 8:30. But is it really? In order to find out, normal youngsters experiment. What happens when they stay up beyond the so-called limit? Discipline provides that answer.

The Basics of Quiet Discipline

While it is necessary to teach children, it is completely unnecessary to shout at them (unless, of course, they are hard of hearing). Parents must convey the seriousness of their requests in a quiet manner that recognizes their own personal dignity and that of their children. This means they must not turn red in the face, stamp their feet, foam at the mouth and scream at the top of their lungs! They must simply ask the child to do or to refrain from doing a specific task at hand. The key, however, is to never ask more than two times. Asking more than twice almost inevitably leads to parental frustration and from there, to a show of parental anger. When anger is used as a discipline tool, there can be serious negative consequences for the parent-child relationship and the development of the child.

Fortunately, it is easy to use the safe and quiet method of discipline known as the Two Times Rule (2X-Rule). For example, if parents want their child to go to bed at 8:30, they would ask the child to do so, using a pleasant and respectful tone of voice. Should the child fail to comply, the calm, mature and quiet parents simply ask a second time, now adding a choice. The child’s choice is to comply with the request or to pay the price of non-compliance-a “ticket.” A ticket is the price that non-compliant adults pay for failing to park in a legally designated area or for failing to drive within the legal speed limit. A ticket is the price a child pays for breaking the rules of the home.

The ticket disciplines both adult and children quietly and without fanfare. No yelling is necessary, no emotional rejection, no drama, no hysteria. The right-priced ticket is sufficiently annoying that people of all ages soon prefer to comply with the standards rather than pay the ticket. Although adults pay a cash value for their tickets, children pay with a wide range of tokens including removal of possessions, removal of privileges, time-out, addition of work and other annoying deterrents. Failure to pay the ticket results in “jail” level punishments for children, just as it does for adults. Learning how to implement the “ask only two times rule” (the 2X-Rule) and create ticket and jail level consequences is a must for parents who want to permanently remove anger from their parenting toolbox.