I have found that I have one major thought or breakthrough each week. My “Aha!” moment. (Often times they occur when I’m in the car, driving to/from meetings for work) I thought I might start a regular post with my “Aha!” moment in hopes that others may also find this useful to them.
This week, my “Aha!” moment relates to discipline in our household. We have made the choice to use “time out” and loss of priviledges as most of our tools for discipline. j is particularly strong-willed. As a 6 year old girl, “time outs” don’t work as well for us anymore. She is starting to show a teen-age like attitude, and is always ready with an argument for why she was disobedient (or in our household, “not being a good listener”).
I have found myself moving away from “time out” to losing priviledges, to losing more and more priviledges. “No tablet this morning.” or “Your [insert favorite toy] is going on the refrigerator until tomorrow morning.” or “No going to the swimming pool today.” I would then start with one priviledge loss, and if no improvement in attitude, I would add another, and another until she totally escalated into a screaming, blubbering mess. It just wasn’t working for us.
I looked at several pins on Pinterest that talk about creating logical consequences as discipline, but in the moment, I never can seem to think of an appropriate consequence. (Do check out my Pinterest board about parenting. It’s called “Mommy,” in keeping with Tinker Tailor Mommy Wife…)
I then stumbled on the idea of changing the orientation of priviledges. I wish I could find that website or blog post, but unfortunately I can’t find it now. I do know that I like the idea proposed, which says that priviledges should be EARNED, not seen as an entitlement or assumed. I started doing a combination of things, meaning I would first give j up to 3 warnings (in keeping with our 1, 2, 3 timeout history) and then she loses a priviledge. If she continues with an attitude or whatever she had been doing (or not doing), she has to earn back that priviledge. It has been pretty amazing. It seemed to click with her. She now looks for ways she can “be a good listener” and ways she can help do other things around the house to earn back the priviledge. For example, she dusted my bedroom the other day, totally on her own.
I also decided to create a chart system for j, because it seems to help her visually. I have also found that if I see that an attitude is coming, if I remind her of her chart, or even have her color in one of her “circles” her attitude totally changes for the better.
Here is a picture of j’s two charts on our fridge. One is her “chore chart” that I purchased on Etsy (more on that in a moment), and the second is her reward chart (also purchased on Etsy).
The chart on the left (see a close up below) I purchased from Etsy. It’s an editable file so I can change the chores she is supposed to do, depending on what we are having issues with. Right now the issues are around getting ready for school without complaining/whining, and going to bed and staying in bed, so you will see those items listed. I also added two “Caught you being a good listener” ones so when she does something without being asked, totally on her own, or if she shows kindness to others, she will get to color in one of those circles.
She is only allowed to watch tv/use her tablet if she gets 5 circles colored in the previous day. Her immediate reward is getting to color in a circle for getting something done. Her short term reward is getting tv/tablet time the next day. Then we have a “BIG” reward she has to earn over about a month…
The chart above is her big reward chart that I purchased from Etsy. It’s not editable, but that works fine because I can just write in the reward she decides she wants to work for. When she gets at least 5 circles in a day, she can color in a “big circle” which gets her closer to getting her current big reward of a whiffer sniffer and a locket. I chose a chart that had 21 circles because I am aiming for one reward/month and I thought this would give her enough opportunities for good days and the occasional bad day to keep her interested. We’ll see if 21 circles is the right number for us right now…
I haven’t gone to the extreme of saying she gets no priviledges until she earns them, it’s a kind of compromise that is working for our family. I hope it can work for you too! Let me know what you think, and how you handle discipline in your household…