...not that knocking them out of the tree really sounds any better, but...
The kind of rut where, eventually, you start to realize that your child is constantly "in trouble." And you know that that shouldn't be happening. But it is. Which must mean that somebody is doing something wrong. And you come to the conclusion that that "somebody" isn't your child. It's you.
That sort of rut.
So, that was where we were when we (wow, that's a lot of 'w's!) decided to have our chat. We desperately desire to raise strong, confident, and happy children. And we were worried that our parenting choices at the time were stamping all the happiness and confidence out of them. We needed a solution. And our solution was to come up with a 'Discipline Plan.'
That probably sounds a lot more negative than it really is. In this case, the point of our discipline plan was not only to limit how often we disciplined, but also was meant to outline how we could do so in a loving, teaching, and patient manner.
We decided there would only be 5 major rules that we would discipline over, and then outlined exactly what we would do if those rules were being ignored.
Our rules were hand tailored to our children, and their current needs, but if you find them useful feel free to download and print these for your little one's as well:
Our first rule is meant to address, in a broad and positive statement, that hitting, spitting, kicking, head butting, belly bumping, and punching are not appropriate ways to express our feelings.
Rule number two was meant to outline ways that ARE appropriate to express our feelings. Using nice words means not calling names. Using quiet words means we do not yell. Using happy words means we do not choose to say things that will make other people feel bad.
Okay, so rule number three sounds silly, but it was the only positive way we could think to phrase "We do not throw forks, blocks, legos, or any of your toys or eating utensils in general. And we especially do not throw the cat. Even when it bites you."
This rule is pretty broad, but we were specifically trying to address the development of social graces. For example, Kay has really enjoyed telling people lately, "I just farted," or "I burpeded!"
The reminder in rule four is that we are always polite. And telling people about your farts and burps is not polite. We are also reminded to say 'excuse me' if we ever find ourselves flatulent in front of friends.
The last rule was not only to teach our children to be safe but also (again) some social graces. Not only can it be dangerous to stand up in your chair and goof around, it is also not polite. This rule also helps our children focus on eating when at the dinner table, instead of playing.
It was also meant to address Kay's habit of jumping on top of people who were laying down on the couch. This rule will help avoid injuries and discomfort over all. =]
And that was it for our rules. Anything that did not fit under one of these 5 categories (like getting out of bed during nap time) we decided we would address in a less direct manner. Such as guiding the child to a new activity, or gentle reminders of appropriate behavior. No matter how many times we would have to do so.
As far as our discipline plan if they did decide to ignore one of the big 5, we decided would be as follows:
But there are two more steps we decided we were going to use before we ever get to the Verbal Reminders. The first is Positive Praise. The second is Proximity.
If, for example, Emmie is throwing her toys across the playroom, our first action would be to praise Kay for not throwing his toys. Not only is Kay's good behavior reinforced but Em, wanting praise and affirmation as well, will most likely stop throwing her toys.
(This is hypothetical, in Emmie girl's case anyways. She may be too young for this type of approach. Kay, however, is not, and should respond well to it.)
If positive praise is not working, we will move on to proximity. Sometimes, it is just enough to sit down next to your child when they are doing something they are not supposed to (if they are old enough to remember the rules, that is).
Your close presence should be a reminder in itself, as they know you are aware of what they are doing. This should give them an opportunity to "check" themselves, to see if they are following the rules, or if they need to start making different choices.
Using both positive praise, and proximity, we are hoping will allow our children to self-discipline. To see an opportunity to improve, and seize it, without ever having to rely on external consequences. But, obviously, there will be times these tools do not work, which is why we outlined the consequences above.
Anyways! That is what we will be going over tonight as a family. Sticking to this discipline plan is a major goal of mine, and will take a lot of work. It will require patience and some self discipline in my own behavior. But it is necessary. And it is important.
My sweet babies deserve a mommy who is willing to be patient, loving, teaching, and long suffering. I am not always those things. But sometimes, I am. And I'm hoping that those sometimes will soon become most times, and some day that those most times will eventually become always. In the meantime, happy parenting you all! It is a journey, that's for sure! Hopefully, for my kids sake, it is one I will travel well...
NOTE: You can download the posters by clicking on the image. It will pull up a larger version and you can "save as." If you want to use these on your blog, feel free, but please link back to and credit my blog. Thanks =]