One of my degrees is in Psychology and I honestly never thought I’d be putting to use the concepts and principles I learned early on in my journey of parenting but those principles regarding behavior modification have definitely come in handy. We didn’t go through the terrible two’s with mini. She was investigative but a good listener. It was fun watching her brain develop as she saw and experienced new things. But once we hit 3, active defiance became our norm. As queen of stubbornness, we bumped heads QUITE often then and I had no clue what to do. Disciplining smart children is especially hard because, well, they’re smart. There has to be a careful balance between guiding them to do the right thing and not putting out their fire.
I started using those chore charts early on but they weren’t so effective because mini couldn’t read at 3 and because I struggle with consistency. I would forget to mark the chart and go over it with her and she couldn’t read to even know what it was we were working on. At 3, this method of behavior modification was a fail. When she turned 4 she became interested in money so she earned a certain amount of play money for displaying a certain behavior and then once she earned $20, she then gained access to her treasure box where she was able to buy things that were in there. Now at 5, we’ve returned to the charts because she’s an avid reader, does NOT struggle with consistency, and likes the visual that shows where she’s doing well versus not so well.
I believe that mini’s teacher and I are a team when it comes to her development. When she told me that mini was having some issues with following the class rules and that she was going to put her on a behavior chart, I knew that it was time to create our chart. I have a thousand and one pre-printed charts but there are just tooooooo many behaviors that they’re focusing on there. In my research and experience, it’s best to work on 1-2 behaviors with a child. You don’t want to set them up for failure and focusing on 2 at a time until they have made that behavior a strength is the best way to go for all parties involved. As parents, we want ALL the behaviors corrected at once but it’s not feasible for the kids–or adults for that matter.
The best way to choose the focused behaviors is to list out all of the issues you’re currently having with your child. Often times these are just symptoms of a root problem(s). For us, it’s first time listening and not talking back–mini’s mouth will get her into trouble more often than not. Her behavior chart also reinforces what her teacher is working with her on. Mini knows that her teacher and I are on one accord and that’s best for the kids.
We’ve gone with the red, yellow, green smiley face method that has point values associated with them. Every Sunday, we discuss what it is that she’d like to earn by the end of the week. Once she’s decided and we’ve agreed upon it, I share with her the minimum points she has to earn at home and at school in order to earn it. Because I want her to be successful, I’ve made the minimums on the lower side. I want her to earn her reward so that she can see how good it feels to earn her reward.
And For Adults Too
Hypocrisy is one of the things that drives me crazy. I’ve always wanted to be the mom that says “do as I do, not just as I say”. I also believe in being pretty transparent with my kids. Mini is so smart and sees so much that I don’t want to hide things for her so that she sees the value in being open. I’m not perfect and there are some things that I need to work on in order to the best version of myself as well. I need to do a better job making time for myself and caring for myself. I want to be a better mother–more patient and less stressed–and I think this is rooted in how I take care (or haven’t been taking care) of myself.
Just like once mini achieves her goals, once I do I get a reward as well. This weeks reward will be a much needed evening at JeJu to enjoy silence and relaxation. Unlike mini, my system is more cut and dry–either I completed it or I didn’t. I don’t get any points for trying because as an adult, I believe that I either make it happen or I don’t.
All people are visual. For those that struggle with consistency, having a visual aide makes it hard to forget to check-in with whomever it is that needs to be checked in. Location is also really important for these charts. Mini’s is located right outside her door–once she opens her door she sees it. Mine is located next to my bed for me to see every morning and every evening. With the constant reminder of what we’re supposed to be doing as well as seeing what is we’re working towards, it keeps the behaviors that we’re working constantly in the forefront of our minds.
How do you handle disciplining in your house?