Once upon a time, I had perfectly well-behaved boys who never ever did anything that required some form of consequence.
…yeah, about that.
For a while there, I actually considered throwing them out a window or something.
There’s three of them. I’m totally outnumbered. And they weren’t listening, obeying, or doing anything remotely helpful to my sanity. (Remember those mom tantrums I talked about before? Yeah.)
I kept trying to find something, anything, that would give me some structure so I wasn’t just throwing arbitrary punishments around. I felt jumbled up and confused about how I was going to make sure the point got across without being harsh or unfair. I also wanted to reward good behavior so it wasn’t just about “well, you really sucked at life today” all the time.
And thus, the All-Great and Amazing Behavior Chart was born!
Okay, maybe not so all-great and amazing (I’m still working on making PDFs editable) but pretty useful.
I couldn’t find any behavior chart that fit my kids just right. So I ended up making my own.
I laminated mine and planned on using clothes pins with the boys’ names on them to track whose behavior for the day.
Now that I have the responses established in my brain, I never use the chart.
It’s so nice to have a consistent response to fall back on instead of just “you’re in trouble and so help me”!
Not only does it help me–no more “oh gosh, they did it again, what do I do now?!”–but it helps my kids know what to expect.
Here are my 4 easy steps to consequences:
A reminder of what’s should be done instead and what will happen if they don’t.
- Time out.
Age + 1 minute has been a decent rule in our house. Long enough to get the point across. Not so long they can’t remember why they’re there.
Time out usually involves being in the same room, unless they are throwing a fit, in which case, they are invited to go lay down on their bed until they can handle their emotions. There are hugs if necessary. I’m not heartless, but they still need to learn to control their behavior.
- Privileges are taken away for the rest of the day.
For our family, this usually is TV time and dessert. Oh, and LEGO time with Dad. I very rarely take away anything like a preplanned event (like a family bike ride), but if I do, it’s an early to bed night because, dude, if they are behaving that badly, they definitely need some sleep.
- Privileges are taken away for the week.
I say week…it’s usually like the time out, but in days. Today, plus your age in days. So my four year old would miss out for five days total.
This one is pretty rare, but definitely needed occasionally….and, again, usually applies to TV or dessert. It’s often a good indicator that we need a break from media and sugar when our behavior gets bad; it also helps us refocus our time on things like sleep, drinking water (since, in our house, juice is also a privilege), using our imagination instead of a screen, and other such healthy habits.
Since we’ve started doing this every time, my kids can now tell me the next step in consequences and have managed to keep their behavior in better check. Most days. It’s so niiiice.
Sometimes (rarely, thank goodness) my kids throw something my way that can’t be handled with this routine.
For example, we’re out in public, or walking somewhere, and I can’t make them sit in time out for five minutes. I compromise at that point: they have to hold my hand while we walk for five minutes, or they get a second warning with the understanding they’ll be skipping to Stage Three of Consequences (no, I don’t seriously call it that, but you get the idea) after this stand-in for the time out…as long as it’s as equivalent as I can get, we call it good.
Another thing I want to keep in mind is keeping the consequence related to the infraction, because that way it’s not just “you did something wrong, go sit”. So sometimes “time out” is replaced by “clean up”.
Actually, a perfect example of this happened yesterday:
My two year old decided to have an accident (yes, decided, because he knows better but he knows if he’s somewhere where I can’t see him, he can get away with it for a while…grr….) plus he ate half a bag of oranges. That kid was walking on my last nerve, let me tell you. (How does he not have the worst stomach ache either?? Seriously??)
We skipped time out, but he got to clean up the accident, clean up the bathroom from the clean up of said accident, pick up and throw out all the orange peels, and no oranges for the week.
See? Sort of a weird combination of all three steps of the consequence chart.
I don’t have quite the same routine for encouragement. I think not being disciplined is usually reward enough, and our house is a pretty movie and cookie-oriented house to begin with, so it’s really about not missing out on all the cool stuff we already do.
Although, we do have LEGO time with Dad. If you’re extra good that day, Dad gets out the LEGOs, and the boys LOVE that time!
Note that, on my chart, generally good behavior is always a step up from where you start the day. It provides neutral ground, but more importantly, it gives the kid the satisfaction (even on a bare minimum good day) that they are headed in the right direction. Encouragement is always good.
That being said, I think the ways we encourage our kids are really unique to ourselves and our circumstances, so what’s on my chart may not work for you. For example, next year I want to start up Mom- and Dad-dates with the kids…am I willing to sacrifice those if the boys don’t reach super great behavior?
Meh. Probably not.
Anyway, enough of my rambling. You are totally welcome to use the chart. It’s available right here.
I know, weird since I just said I don’t use it, but what works for one family may not for another and vice versa. You may do the same thing I did and print it and realize you don’t need it anymore. You may be a chart-using addict and your kids love them too. Do what works! Besides, I’d hate for it to go to waste.
How do consequences and rewards work in your house?
What works in your family?
Tell me in the comments below!