In Discipline News | Giftie Etcetera: In Discipline News

Thursday, June 18, 2009

In Discipline News


{Deep breathing}

There, all better.

We decided on the 6-kid home-based preschool near my office. If offers what we are looking for without a huge price tag and we can move up to something bigger next year. Don't you feel all updated and stuff? ;)

So on to discipline issues.


Ander was the sweetest little 2 year old. He would listen and do his very best to obey. He wanted people happy and would try to please them. And then came 3.

(On a related-but-only-through-stream-of-consciousness note, Loki was a pleasant, sweet, nonmobile 7 month old. 9 months tomorrow...and he now insists on hiding around the corner, setting off the carbon monoxide detector, and eating anything he can touch. Ander tells him, "No no, Loki. If you touch that again, Mommy will put you in jail." Lol. Jail is a pack 'n play and it's never used for more than a few seconds, unless I'm in the bathtub, but you make one joke in front of the 3 year old and bam - you are stuck with it.)

We have a Chart. On his chart, Ander can earn checks (20 = 1 Book Buck for spending at the bookstore) for getting dressed cooperatively or picking up his toys. It's the three year old version of a chore chart, since there's no consequence for not doing the stuff, but there will be when he is older.

We have Timeout. We strive to use the Supernanny method to the letter. Warning at eye level in a calm voice, 3 minute timeout, brief explanation, sorries, and hugs and kisses. We are so far from perfect, but pretty consistent. We use timeout for disobedient behavior, like hitting or refusing to follow directions. If the behavior involves an object, like hitting the wall with a bat, the object goes into timeout.

We have Chillout. Chillout is offered (okay, mandated or you get a timeout) when a 3year old shouts "NO!" at another person, runs like a mad person around the house, or has a temper tantrum. The preschooler is sent to his room to calm down. He can play with toys or whatever it takes, but can't come back until he is calm. It works pretty well in each separate instance, but happens far too often. Sometimes, it might happen five or six or more times in a single day. But it seems much more appropriate than the more confrontational timeout when I know Ander is just frustrated versus disobeying.

We have Steps. Special Agent Oso, on the Disney Channel, uses "three steps" to get his missions done. So Ander's missions have three steps, as I've described in a previous blog post.

Finally, I've recently introduced The Rules: Nice Hands, Walking Feet (when indoors or on a hard surface), Listening Ears, Watching Eyes (for making sure you can see the grownup in charge unless you are in your room or have permission to be out of sight), and Nice Mouth (for kind words and inside voice when inside). We review the rules daily and before big things, like swimming lessons. We make motions with our hands (like binocular eyes when discussing Watching Eyes) when reviewing the rules, because kids learn by doing and listening and watching and teaching, and not just by hearing.

But we are still having major discipline struggles. I know some of it is just normal 3 year old stuff. But he seems angry. And mean. And like he has no care that things might be taken away. Like timeout is whatever.

So I'm thinking of adding something. Maybe it's the school teacher in me, but I think you can never have too many tools.

I'm thinking of, first, making a big cutout of a person, with a red circle for a mouth, blue circles for ears, green circles for eyes, purple circles for hands, and yellow circles for feet. I'll post The Rules on the person so Ander can be reminded, visually. (He obviously can't read, but I can point to the yellow feet and ask him what that means. He'll learn walking feet fast enough, especially since I've already introduced it.)

Second, I'm considering making a consequence ladder, with a duplicate of Mr. Rules climbing up and down on it. (I'll make the ladder on a sturdy, large bookmark with a large paperclip holding Mr. Rules so it's easy to display but portable.) Mr. Rules will start each day in neutral territoty. For exceptional behavior (which I will warn about beforehand), Mr. Rules moves up and gets nonmonetary awards - hug from parent, parent tells Ander a story (one of his favorite things that we NEVER take the time to do), or, if he is really good, parent plays a game with him. (Pictures of people hugging, a book, and a game will indicate the rewards.) Going up will happen only when I give him an opportunity (such as when I tell him that we are going to the park and, if he doesn't go in timeout and leaves without arguing, he goes up) or when an outside grown-up compliments his behavior (such as Aunt saying he was very good at her house this afternoon).

Going down happens with each bad outside report or any timeout (since timeouts only happen after a warning, so it seems fair). Each step adds another consequence for the rest of the day. The first consequence would be unplugged (no radio, tv, or internet - yes, my 3 year old loves the internet, sigh) until he moves back up through earning it or the next day, whichever comes first), then untoyed (no toys except in his room, which would really cramp his playing style), then bed only (in his bed until he earns back privilege). He can move up from negative territory by 1) the day passing, 2) opportunity or outside adult compliments behavior, as explained above), or 3) doing a special, and decidedly unpleasant, chore of parents choosing (allowing him a chance to earn back priviledges, but not easily).

It sounds complex, but to him, it would be a really simple chart on display. The details are really for me to think it out, so I act predictably and consistently. I didn't think we would need this with a 3 year old, but things are crazy and I think we do. :(



Mommy said...

My thoughts: Ander is a sweet kid so something is probably going on that isn't obvious. I'd love to make a joke about teething, but i can tell your frustrated.

1) screen time? We have found that the amount of screen time JD has is directly proportional to bad behavior. an average of 30 minutes a day at home (they watch a school to) seems to be the limit.
2) His blocks might be about to fall.
3) How's his diet? maybe cut out processed foods, etc... offer more snacks?
4) sleep time? too much, too little, needs a nap?

good luck

Giftie Etcetera said...

1) Probably! That's why level 1 offenses mean no screen time, though I've been limiting it more overall as well.

3) Working on that, but it will be so much easier when my mom isn't feeding him.

4) Still sleeping all night and napping enough that I have to wake him after two or three hours. He loves sleep.

But, really, my whole point is to ask: WHAT DOES #2 MEAN? Lol!!! It sounds, um, dirty {blushes} but maybe it's not a metaphor? Or is there something physical that I don't know about? Help the clueless!!!

Mommy said...

i blogged about it with JD. Robyn took a class in developmental pyschology and told me about it. it is a metaphor for how kids acquire skills/knowledge/understanding. it's like stacking blocks. at some point the tower gets high enough that it becomes unstable. then it falls over. and the child has the same blocks but now the skills/knowledge/understanding is stable and he can start stacking new blocks again.
so maybe Ander's blocks are unstable and about to fall?

Giftie Etcetera said...

EBeth - I remember now. Remind me to tell you sometime what I thought you meant. {blushes}