The Step Up to Obedience Approach provides eight  disciplinary strategies that give the child lots of chances to obey, before a punishment happens.


STEP ONE: STOP OR IGNORE .   IF DANGER EXISTS USE THE STOP PLAN   Here is how to use STOP:  Say the word STOP.  Say it loud, even angrily, TELL the child what to stop. OFFER an alternative more positive behavior. PHYSICALLY enforce compliance if necessary but always end with a positive once child has complied with your command.

Examples of the Stop Plan: “Stop; a car is coming, we will get the ball later. Thank you. ” or “Stop hurting your sister; use words instead. Thank you.” or  Stop spitting, use a tissue. Thank you.” or “Stop going through my purse, you need to earn your allowance if you want money. Thank you.

Forcing compliance must be done without leaving bruises or marks on the child. Leaving marks is “Assault and Battery” and can lead to charges of abuse.

If a child’s behavior cannot be stopped without leaving a mark, you and the child need outside help. Meanwhile, work to keep every one safe. If the child is doing something dangerous call 911.

The STOP Plan is also useful for those other times when behavior is totally  unacceptable, Use the STOP plan when a child is:

  •  In danger or putting others in danger,
  • Destroying valuable property,
  • Bullying another child or hurting a pet,
  • Doing something others would find disgusting,
  • Breaking the law.

 IF SAFETY IS NOT AN ISSUE OR THE BEHAVIOR NOT TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE,  TRY IGNORING.  When  the behavior does not need stopping immediately, consider ignoring.   Ignoring means not paying attention particularly to attention seeking behaviors or minor rule infractions.  Often given time, children self correct.  If the child does not self correct, then the next step is feedback.

STEP TWO: A STERN LOOK  Often all a child needs to self correct is a reminder. A Stern Look accompanies by shaking your head “No” often words. Then when the child self corrects you can praise or  just say “Thank You.

STEP THREE   FEED BACK – Feedback provides factual information about what is happening delivered in a calm, mater-of-fact voice.  This poster coach explains:

Feedback rulesFeedback is best used when compliance is optional or can be delayed.  When that is not the case and you want to deliver a message that suggests stopping try non-verbal scolding.

STEP FOUR: BROKEN RECORD.  Taught in assertive training, this simply involves repeating the last statement.  Broken Record can be used with Feedback and then again if you move up to  requesting obedience

 STEP FIVE:  ASK FOR OBEDIENCE.  Do so politely“Please remember our rules.”

STEP SIX: ANGRILY DEMAND OBEDIENCE.  Restart the rule angrily and add “I expect you to obey, now.”

STEP  SEVEN:  123 COUNT TO PUNISHMENT.  This provides the child with a final chance to avoid an agreed upon punishment.   When the child continues to resist abiding by the rule, say “One.” Continued disobedience gets a “Two.”  Three and a punishment is put into play.

STEP EIGHT: PUNISH.   The rules and punishments must be known before hand. Punishments should also be able to be enforced without the child’s consent. Taking away privilege—not being able to play with a special toy, loss of special time with a parent,  no dessert with dinner, loss of  television time, loss of  allowance, cell phone or computer time, and for a teenager taking away use of the family car are examples of privileges that can be removed.

Extra work is a punishment that requires the child to cooperate.  Extra work , however, is a good followup punishment and often useful to help a child prove he or she is willing to learn from the experience or make amends for misbehaving.Some parents take away holiday presents, birthday parties, vacations, visits with a parent who lives else where or visits with other treasured relatives.  These are not privileges but important ingredients in a child’s feeling cared for and must never be used as a punishment.

State the punishment using TAG. Here is how to put the TAG option into play.        T = Tell the child what  rule has been broken.  A =.Announce the agreed upon punishment. G = Give a positive and give the child responsibility.

Example:  The school called and said you cut three classes today. You cannot use the car until you do better. That means a week with no cuts.  You did better last week  I hope you can get your act together again  I know you like doing things the right way.  It is up to you.”

After announcing the punishment, end the conversation then and there.  If you must, get up and leave the room while saying something like “I don’t have time to discuss this further, you broke the rule, you know the punishment, I have more important things to do.”

All of this is much easier said than done.  So do the best you can and make sure you have lots of support. Following my Emotional Fitness Training blog provides support more frequently.

More may be needed.  When you have tried the above and it has not worked, more is needed. Next Parents Are People Too blog post. 


All the handouts and poster coaches for used in a blog post are being posted at the store so you can download them for free .

As I am a Jill of All and have family life, some things take longer than others to get posted.  If a poster  isn’t up  yet, you will find lots of other offerings including inspirational quotes or more EFTI exercises.



Please rate this material. Doing so helps me. This is what your stars will mean to me. No stars – Not helpful; One star – Reinforced my knowledge –  Two Stars; New information –  Three stars;  New useful information; Four stars – Very good; Five stars – Excellent.

Thank you and work at staying strong until next time,. I work hard to do the same as life is often difficult but staying strong lets me find the good.


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