Monday, January 19, 2015

Discipline At Home

Deciding how to discipline your children is one of the hardest decisions a parent has to make. As children get older, rules and consequences evolve with them. Trying to come up with a good system that was consistent for all three kids was a challenge, but we figured out a way to be consistent across the age gaps, as well as with their classroom policies.

We decided on a behavior chart, but with a twist.

The first step was to agree on some House Rules. If we were going to give them a consequence for not following a rule, it's only fair that everyone know the rules. We went over them as a family, made sure everyone understood, then posted them next to the clip chart. 

After we agreed on the rules, we needed to establish consequences. Have you ever been so frustrated at the end of the day that you just start giving out weird punishments? "If you don't stop right now I'm taking away all your toys!" There have been times when I was too tired or too angry to think of an appropriate consequence, and the same punishment wouldn't always be appropriate for all of my kids. I needed a better system. So, we created a list of consequences that would be age appropriate for all of them, as well as practical.

Here's the twist: I don't give out the consequences! They either draw a number or roll a dice, and whatever number it lands on is the consequence. This eliminates one parent being harsh and the other lenient, or kids being angry over the consequence (or at least, blaming me for it). We also included a "Lucky Day" one, which is basically a get-out-of-jail-free spot. We need to teach mercy and forgiveness even in the face of disobedience, so giving them a chance for no consequence and to be shown mercy just made sense.

As for the clip chart, it's pretty simple. Each kid has their own color clip. They start on green every day. If they are good at school, or clip up on the behavior chart at school, they can clip up to blue when they get home. Likewise, if they clip down at school, they will clip down to yellow when they get back. If they continue to make good choices, such as helping without being asked, sharing with a sibling, or another good deed, they clip up. If they break a rule, they clip down. If you clip to orange, you roll the dice for a consequence. If you clip down again to red, you must go to bed early and try again tomorrow.
In this picture you can see our reward bucket. If you clip up to pink, and stay there until bedtime, you can pick a prize from the box. They don't get the prize until bedtime, otherwise they could act like angels, get the prize, then turn back to their demon spawn selves. You must make it to the end of the day, but they have plenty of opportunities.

You can fill your Reward Bucket with anything you like- candy, small toys, "coupons" for favorite meals or special treats...whatever works for your family. We have quite a mix of items and the kids enjoy selecting a special treat. 

This system has worked great for us, but you may need to tweak it to fit your family's needs. Now they can quickly see the rules to follow, and the consequences for breaking them. It solves a lot of arguments in my house!