I've done a few posts here at The Mama Dramalogues, in which I've shared my frustration when it comes to disciplining my two girls. Gracie and Annelie are 5 and 3, and are very good little girls... but are also very high energy little trouble makers who spend quite a fair amount of time fighting with each other and all around driving me to morph from a calm, rational woman to a maniacal screaming lunatic.
Obviously that wasn't working for me, but despite reading self-help books and trying all sorts of things from the naughty corner time-out to taking privileges away (already I watch the red food dye intake and monitor sugars and items with high-fructose corn syrup and such) I just wasn't finding a solution that worked for us.
Until now. I actually got this idea from Gracie's kindergarten teacher. I'm not sure how her teacher's system works completely, but when Gracie steps off the school bus crying that she "moved her clip" I know that she got in trouble in class, and that she is very unhappy about that.
Using the idea of moving a clip to show punishment, I made up a little chart out of index cards (the picture above - 1 pink index card, 1 yellow, and 1 blue - the above picture is missing one blue rectangle. Our chart has 8 rectangles) and though my illustrations aren't amazing, they are a good reminder for my non-reading 3-year-old of what she can lose by being naughty.
How it works -
Each kid has a large paper clip in which I strung on one colored bead to represent them.
Every day starts fresh, and when they do things that they know they are not supposed to be doing (ie fighting, hitting, biting, wrecking each others stuff, wrecking my stuff, not listening, torturing the pets, et cetera, et cetera...) they physically move their clip from one box to the next.
There are two warning spots (blue rectangles) but when it is daytime and they move out of the blue, they begin to lose their pink privileges - their three most favorite things: TV time, dress up and art.
Once the evening hits, we move into the yellow, so even if they haven't lost TV or dress up, they could still lose their after-dinner dessert or bed time story. Or the worst for them - automatic early bedtime.
THEY CAN EARN THEIR PRIVILEGES BACK - this is probably the best part, because I find that when they are given the ability to redeem themselves, they WANT to do it. My girls are young, and sometimes when they are upset or angry, their behavior can spiral out of control and they might end up losing more than one of their privileges in a short amount of time.
If they lose a privilege they want to earn back I give them a job that I feel is worth it (ie washing the floor, folding laundry - usually a job to help me around the house) and for each job, they get to move their clip back one space. They usually like to do enough to keep them in the blue.
If it is still daytime, and they are at the end of the pink, it is an automatic "nap time." This one is actually for my benefit, because if they've done 5 naughty things before 4:30 pm, I usually need a mental break as my kids don't generally nap (haven't napped for at least 2-3 years). After that, they can either sit in their rooms all day, or do jobs to earn their privileges back.
We've been doing this for about 3 weeks now, and honestly, it is amazing. The index cards are small, and fold easily into the size of one card, which I can stick in my purse and take with me. Other than that, it goes on the fridge, where they can easily reach it.
I have Gracie and Annelie move their own clips so they can be 100% aware of where their clip is, and what they have lost/what they will lose if their behavior doesn't change.
Honestly, I think it is having something concrete to see and remind them of their behavior that works the most. My kids need visuals - time-outs and losing privileges did not mean much when they were just listening to my exasperated threats. And having the ability to redeem themselves makes the idea of being in trouble less scary because they can have more control over what they lose and when they can get it back.
As always, I'm a curious mama... what works for you in your home? And if nothing does... try giving this a try!