Winds are blowing… as they always do. At this time in Education there is negativity that is associated with “discipline in the classroom” and instead the emphasis is on Classroom Management.
This led me to spend some time thinking about Home Management. Before we delve in, I want to make something perfectly clear:
If you are a parent who is searching for help and feeling like a failure or feeling like your methods are failing, please take a moment to remind yourself that there is no such thing as perfect and as long as you are seeking answers and asking questions – you are on the right track!
It is so important I am going to say it again, but this time pay attention: There is no such thing as perfect and I hope you are not expecting that of yourself OR your child(ren)!
Now that we have that clear, let’s talk about this negativity surrounding “discipline” because as a Mom – at first I was like… “say what?? Sometimes there is no other way!”
But then I thought about it. Is taking away privileges a form of discipline or is it management? Is doling out a consequences- management or discipline? First I had to think about what I considered consequences. In our house, we have a system (that I am getting to) that makes consequences really easy – the bottom line is no electronics. Yep – all. of. it. There is no “step 1: take away the ipod. step 2 take away tv.” (I tried it – it didn’t work for us because I flat out couldn’t remember if all of them had been good and if not at what level had they had something taken away >insert headache here<. So back to it – simple rule=no electronics and despite the clarity in which I described to my children the consequence of no electronics – they always seem surprised and always ask, “Is that the __<insert tv, wii, ipod, etc)___too?” You have noticed by now (most likely) my use of the word – “consequence” versus “punishment” – I know awfully picky right? When I was growing up they were one and the same. But times have changed and after I thought about it – they are completely different words. Punishments are a form of Discipline. Punishment is spankings, belts, rulers, kneeling by the fridge, going to bed without dinner (which was sometimes really a reward). A consequence is a result of action or behavior. It teaches kids for every action there is a reaction. Good or bad. But – you kind of want to steer for the good because it makes life easier and more fun!
Where the rules stem from:
Well you see, when my first child was delivered by the stork out of the sky dropped a “How to” book for raising children. HA!
Seriously, when my children started Preschool I asked about the four signs they seemed to have everywhere. These signs read: “walking feet, ” “inside voices,” “teachers touch the door,” and ” listening ears.”
Now I guess that has blossomed into 7 taught in the classroom: “hands to self,” “inside voice,” “walking feet,” “working hard,” “quiet hand up,” “eyes on teacher”, and “listening ears.”
Makes sense right? That is rhetorical people -Right. My initial intention was that if we had similar rules at home – my kids would be used to the expectations at school and do better… or at least stay out of trouble. It worked!
The rules of our household follow closely the Classroom Management Basic Rules and the PBIS -Positive Behavior Interventions and Support. The may seem vague at first – but just wait!
#1. Be safe. This covers a lot of ground right? No running, no pushing, no fighting, no horsing around, don’t leave the house alone, don’t talk to strangers, and on and on and on! When your children are doing something, just ask, “Is that safe? It isn’t “No this” and “No that” or “You are breaking the rules!!” It is a simple question they must learn to ask themselves!! I have enclosed the printout I made – together we sat down and went into further detail -that is why the clouds are so big! I asked, “So what does being safe mean?” They answered, “no running, no fighting,” etc – and we wrote these responses into the extra space of the cloud.
#2. Be helpful. Again covering a ton of ground: clean up after yourself, etc. All of my children since age 4 have put there dishes in the dishwasher after a meal. After age 11 they do their own laundry. They always are responsible to keep toys picked up and they have to put their dirty clothes in the hamper (not on the floor). After being in the bathroom for a shower or to get ready they must make sure they clean up after themselves. This is all part of being helpful.
#3. Be Kind. This means no fighting, no racing, please hold doors open, and maybe say nice things to each other, and yes, share your toys. As they get older it means no bullying, stand up for others, do not take friendship for granted – make sure friends know they are cared for and family knows they are loved. An unexpected place this helped us out was at the dinner table. We always affirmed just trying things. No forced , “Finish your plate!” but still we encountered resistance based on appearance or newness. One night after an exhausting battle, “just try a mushroom – you might like it!” *epic fail* my littlest one piped up and said, “it’s not nice to not try what Mom made.” Genius! At the thought of not having electronics all over a bite of mushroom the child caved. No food favorite was developed- he still hated mushrooms. He made a hysterical face that had everyone in peels of laughter. And food trials were no longer a trial here.
So – here is the blank template:
After the first month of having it titled “Our House Rules” – I decided it applied to life – so I changed it “Our Life Rules.”
Now – how do you track their behavior?? How do you remember if they have been naughty or nice? Well – remember “KISS”?
We follow that.
Here is the calendar that hangs in our house. It is right next to the rules. If all of them have followed the rules – they get a smiley face. If ANY of them broke a rule – they get a frown face. (I caution you against using “warnings” – these are simple life rules. They will catch on quick!! My kids help each other to keep the smile faces going!) The calendar tracks the day and they must have 5 smiley faces in a row in order to have electronics! So if they break a rule – it is 5 days no electronics if they correct the behavior and keep on top of the others. So when one is naughty they all get punished??? That isn’t fair?! Life isn’t fair. We are family – we stick together and help each other make life easier. At first the other kids got upset, but since they have all been at fault they are not (as) hard on each other. Instead, there has been this really great self dedication to family helping family! Which is another great life lesson.
Here is the calendar (basic template available in Word – snazz it up all you want!):
DISCLAIMER: This is not going to work for everyone! I had rule sheets upon rule sheets before deriving this set up and who knows? in a year it might not work for us any longer! You have to be able to adjust. You have to be able to change (another GREAT life lesson!) and TALK to your kids!!! about it. “”Boy, that really didn’t work for us – did it? Let’s think of something that might work better…” Golden TIP: Ask a teacher!! There is NO ONE that understands the lack of guidebook better than a teacher!! They might have something that will work for you and yours!
This also teaches kids you don’t just give up if something doesn’t work – you find something else and ask for help!
There was a week for me that sh!t hit the fan and I knew my kids had broken the rules – but I couldn’t remember when or what. I sat them down and said, “Hmmm. Things have been really crazy haven’t they? We lost track of our days and sometimes our rules haven’t we? How about we start with today and see how things go?” Their behavior back on track, smiley faces abound – we recovered. Life happens people! Teach kids how to move on from it!
This also prevents the hanging on of past mistakes. Every month a new clean slate is printed and posted. Focus is on the desired behavior. Responsibility is theirs. They are their own people – it is my job to make sure they are good people.
Also – no frowny face for behavior issues at school. The school has their own consequences. No doubling up! Now my daughter once fibbed about having homework done. The next day I got an email from her teacher who was concerned that said homework was not done. When talking to her she said she thought she could get it done in her morning study hall so “no big deal” but then she forgot about it. We explained, it is not kind, safe or helpful to lie to parent(s) = frown face. She individually got an extra 5 days of no electronics because we wanted the message to be loud and clear – lie not to your parents, ever.
Another note – it puts electronic devices where they belong too – a benefit. A desire. NOT a NEED. The days my kids CAN play electronics – they often don’t. They are too busy outside or playing playdoh or drawing or singing, etc. But the consequence still works because what if they want to play it and they can’t?! >gasp!< also – when starting out make them earn electronics!! Five straight days of smiley faces!! Remember it is a privilege not a right!! This is how you redefine it for your kids. (and when we lost our place – we began again as well.)
I, like you, I’m just doing the best I can. Like most things in life -things improve faster if you put your heads together – so if you have ideas please share!!