I hope you all are enjoying this awesome fall weather as much as the kiddos and I are. It's allowed us to enjoy outside activities without being overly hot or freezing cold. We've gone apple picking, and tomorrow we have plans for a pumpkin picking field trip. I am truly loving all the time we are spending together as a family.
With that said, allow me to keep it all the way real. Sometimes, my kids are off the hook, and I'd rather not spend time with them at all. I have been that woman in Target with a baby screaming, a 3 year old running wildly through the clothes, and a 4 year old having a melt down because he has been denied his latest request for something (ANYTHING) new.
How do I handle these situations? Well, to begin with, I try to avoid these situations all together. I know their triggers: tired, bored, or hungry (basically the same for any kid). I find that if my children are scheduled and fed, they are pretty good kids... actually very good. When we go out, I try and remember to give them the "mommy talk". Basically I break down my expectations, and consequences. While home we have a routine (not so much a schedule) that they come to expect. In the morning, Ace asks what we are doing for the day. He's that textbook child who thrives on a routine. I believe it makes him feel secure and safe, otherwise he can be a very worried child. He reminds me of the book Wemberly Worried. I can go into more details about our daily routine or plan in another post.
However, there are those times when for whatever reason, they act a mess, routine, "mommy talk" or not. On one particular day about a year ago, Ace was having one of those days. He was being a monster. I thought I was going to loose my mind. Screaming, yelling, slamming doors. It was me vs. my (at the time) 3 year old. Once the battle was over, and we were both calm, I knew something had to change. I mean I was a teacher in an urban area, with often over 25 kids to keep in line. How come I couldn't keep my own child in order.
How do I use this?
Well, each child has a clothespin. Their names are written on them with a Sharpie. For the picture I flipped them so their names don't show. I only have one for Ace, and Bear now, but at some point when he's old enough I'll add a clothespin for CJ. In the morning the clothespins start at the top in dark green. Everyday is new and they can start fresh each day. I want to teach them that bad days happen, but we must move on and make the next day better. The color chart is as follows:
Dark Green = Perfect Day: Dessert (Usually pudding, fruit, or fruit snacks), iPad or phone time before bath, plus a magnet on responsibility chart for Ace. Ace has a Melissa and Doug Magnetic Responsibility Chart, it comes with lots of pre-written responsibilities and also a few blank, so you can write your own. I added a good listening responsibility. If he gets 7 magnets (sunday through saturday), he is rewarded with a treat of his choice (with in reason).
Light Green = Pretty good day: Dessert, iPad or phone time before bath, no magnet
Yellow = Okay Day: Dessert, no iPad or phone
Orange = Needs Improvement Day: No Dessert, No electronics
Red = Very bad, No good, Horrible day: Straight to bed after dinner, no dessert, no bath, no book, Do not pass go, do not collect $200 (a little Monopoly humor.. lol).
We have only ever had a Red day once, and rarely orange. Every child tests the limits sometimes.
How do they move up and down the chart?
When the boys get time-out, they move down from one color to the next. On most days they stay in the green (dark or light). I have on occasion, moved a clothespin back up a space. This only happens for exceptional unsolicited behavior or actions. For example I once caught Ace cleaning the playroom and getting Bear to help. I didn't ask him to. He was truly just being a good kid. On the other hand there have been times he is in yellow, and will say "mommy, look, I just picked up my Legos. Can you move me back up?" Nope, doesn't work like that.
I like this system because it allows me to have a concrete reference for their behavior. My husband always asks how the boys were when he gets home from work. Sometimes, by that time I am so tired, and brain fried, I don't remember the morning tantrum. Simply seeing that someone's clothespin is in light green helps me to remember. It's also perfect for small children, as it is a visual representation of their behavior.
We've been using this system for about a year and it works for us. What discipline systems (if any) do you use in your home?