After the dust of toddlerdom and the early school stage clears, parents graduate to tweens and teens. Oh, what a fun ride! This is also the time that we figure out that the same ol’ discipline tricks aren’t gonna work out anymore.

While you’re mulling things over about how you got there so quickly and what happened to your sweet angel, she’s already realized that time-outs are for babies and suckers. The sucker being you, dear mom and dad.

Kids grow up so fast, don’t they? So fast you have to learn how to adapt your parenting methods. That’s what these parents did when trying to come up with replacement for time-outs. Their 9-year-old outgrew the old disciplinary plan, and they found one that would stick and meant business.

They decided to implement a charter. The idea came to Geoffrey Redick after he and his wife got an email from their daughter’s teacher outlining their class charter. Redick’s wife, a human resources professional, mentioned their department had one too and it uses the language of positive affirmations.

For now, it’s an experiment, with the charter acting as guiding principles/rules for behavior and discipline taking the forms of talks. How does it work?

The family laid out their wants in statement form with descriptions attached. Here is an example from the Redick family’s charter:

“We want to be safe — emotionally and physically. This means that when our sister is wearing roller skates, we don’t push her down the driveway. More importantly, it means that we can feel safe in being honest with each other, i.e. ‘You scared me when you pushed me down the driveway’, without fear of ridicule or dismissal. And it means we can share bad news, or a worry that’s weighing on us, or a mistake we regret without being judged.”

Other statements in the charter address needs like respect, being heard, personal space, and love. Everyone is bound by the rules set forth in the charter, not just the children. Parents can call out the kids for an infraction and vice versa. Apologies are given and accepted.

Instead of things getting testy or languishing in the dark, the idea is that each party can come to the table and discuss what’s wrong. It’s all about accountability. With each member of the family agreeing on the charter’s purpose and rules, the expectations are clear.

Rednick points out that their charter is a flexible document which can be changed over the course of the next few years as the children grow older. It sounds like at its core, the values will stay the same.

Establishing boundaries and consequences are part of parenting, and it may take some trial and error before parents find which formula works best for them. Who knows? Maybe this charter will prove to be the business practice that this family needs.

What are your thoughts on this approach to accountability and discipline? How did you shift your methods once your kids got older? Would you try something like this?