One of the things I love most about the relationship that Dave and I have is our ability to create balanced discipline in our family. Dave tends to go to the far right with his discipline style, while I am usually to the left. The good thing about that is that we balance each other out. Dave lets me know when I'm being a pushover and I let him know when he's being harsh. Either way- in the heat of the moment, we always back each other and very, very rarely disagree with each others decisions openly in front of the kids. Eventually we find a way to meet in the middle- but that almost always happens behind closed doors. We learned that if we get much better results when we unite as a team in matters of discipline.
Discipline has become a trial-by-error process with our boys. It didn't take long for us to realize that what works with one of them won't necessarily work with the others. Physical punishment, such as spankings, was pretty much out the window from the start of our relationship. We have used the occasional slap on the hand, smack to the back of the head, flick to the elbow and tug of the ear to get their attention. However, traditional "brush beatings" or "belt beatings" would likely not work on our kids- and would probably land us in jail nowadays. So, while we have yet to find a significant punishment mechanism for all the kids, we have found a few things at work. First, find what they love to do; then for the punishment, take it away. For Kaleb it's his ipod touch, video games, time with friends and his cell phone. For Brian, it's video games and computer time. For Gabe it's Karate, bionicles, television, and dessert. For Xander it's staying up until 8:30pm, dessert, and being able to roam about the house playing make believe. Depending on the "offense," they may also have to earn back whatever was taken away. There was a point about a year and half ago when we had a really, really difficult time with one of the boys. We had to, not only, empty his room out, but take his door off of his bedroom. He gradually earned back all of the items, to include his door.
If there is one area I think we struggle most with, its this area. We want to teach our kids that it's okay to make mistakes, but also teach them that there are consequences for your actions and choices. At least once a day we are telling one of them to stop making excuses and to take responsibility for their actions. If there is one thing that I hope they learn before they move out, then that's it - Take responsibility.