Saturday, 10 July 2010

Our Stellar Behaviour Management Plan

The Geege and I are a good team. When it comes to parenting, we naturally fall into a synchronous stride with our style, goals and disciplinary tactics with the kids. We've never really had to talk about 'things' - we just feel the same way about them instinctively.

I have been losing the plot a bit lately. I could hand out a list of excuses, but it doesn't change the fact that I am doing some serious ranting and I should be more responsible.

I wake with my cranky pants on and they seem to get stuck on me all day, like a pair of size 8 jeans I tried to squeeze into that are now causing me circulation problems. I can't ignore the situation, but I can't seem to snap out of it either.

The kids are copping the brunt of my second adolescence. I hate that I am grumpy. I hate that they don't understand why I have become a yelling machine. I hate that my husband feels the need to give me a time-out.

I had trouble falling asleep last night because I was reflecting on my recent bad behaviour. I snuck into the kids' rooms and kissed them on the cheek, told them I loved them and promised to do better today. They slept through my confession, but I lifted enough Mother's Guilt to sleep soundly afterwards. My Catholic upbringing comes out at the most inopportune moments.

I used to be able to discipline the kids without threats, shouting matches and endless time-outs.

Where has my copy of our stellar behaviour management plan gone?

Let me step my way through it...

1. The Groundwork - Our kids are taught boundaries. What is okay in different situations, personal space, how to deal with disappointment etc. They don't always 'get it right' but they do seem to understand that when environments change, so too can the rules. Simple ideas are "inside and outside toys/games/voices", "best behaviour" situations, not touching babies' faces, listening to others etc. These boundaries help us to show the kids 'right' and 'wrong' and help them to understand why they are being disciplined.

2. Stick to the plan - If we say it will happen, it does. "I will throw out the next toy that you put into your mouth". *Toss*

3. Use of 'Cranky Mummy/Daddy voice' - When we want the kids to know that the tone of the situation has changed (ie the joke has gone too far), we make a distinct change in the tone of our voice when we ask them to stop. Mine is called "Cranky Mummy" and you often hear the boys talking amongst themselves about the arrival of Cranky Mummy.

4. 1-2-3 - Three chances until a consquence. Or three counts to stop doing something and listen. Or three counts to come to us to get your clothes on. You get the picture.

5. Consequences of actions - If they purposefully hurt someone, or defy us, there is always a consequence (like they get roused on, have to give a toy to a sibling, get time-out etc)

6. The thinking spot - If someone does something that requires some time-out to think and reflect on what they did, or why they did it, they get sent to the thinking spot. This can be used to calm down a crazed child or to diffuse a conflict. Following a period in the thinking spot (length of time depends on child's age), a discussion is had (i.e. a teaching opportunity) and an apology is sought (where appropriate).

7. Holding - Sometimes kids need connection, rather than space. In these situations, we sit them on our lap and hug them to help them calm down. We pat them, soothe them, rub their arm to help them feel our presence and our love for them. This strategy is very effective, we find, and is a much gentler way to parent. Note to self - more of this tomorrow.

8. Modelling - The best way to help your children learn to behave is to model good behaviour. Show them how it is done. Talk to them about how you will behave in a particular situation and what the expectations are. Show them what to do if you get it wrong. Apologise for your own misbehaviour.

9. Focus on the good behaviour - Kids love to be told they are doing a good job. We try to reward the child who is displaying good behaviour. The more attention available for good behaviour, the more of it you will see. It is hard when everyone is running amock but it IS possible (and desirable). On some days the thing you hear most from us is: "What good blah so-n-so is doing! Thank you for that".

10. Get them to work as a team - If the kids have a common goal ie. a treat for afternoon tea after they finish cleaning up, they are more likely to put the effort in, work together and get the job done (without bickering) if it is a "one in, all in" approach.

There is a gentler parent in there. She's just caught in her cranky pants and can't seem to find her way out.

This has been helpful for me and I hope for you too. I WILL do better tomorrow.

I'd love to know how you manage discipline at your place.


Angie said...

My kids are 11 and almost 19. I used to do the 1-2-3 thing but after several years of that, was afraid I wasn't gonna be able to count any I just started yelling "knock it off" alot. It works if you drag the word "off" out pretty long... ;-)

My problem was always being too lenient...I just love a mischievous darn cute!

Asashia said...

I love your plan! It sounds like the plan I had in my head but wasn't able to write down so eloquently!

MultipleMum said...

I totally agree that their cuteness gets in the way Angie... children's zest for life and (mischief) is one of life's true highlights.

Thanks Asashia. I am sure there are 'proper' terms for all the 'steps'. We're just making it up as we go along.

Maxabella said...

Our parenting styles aren't so different after all! The only bit I fail at is number 2. I am too easily swayed... bugger. The rest we do well at and I'm proud of my children's behaviour most of the time. They are polite, funloving kids who know right from wrong and that's the most important thing. That's the reason our children all play so well together - they are all respectful of each other.

I can tell you why your cranky pants are glued to your behind - you're exhausted and over it. No wonder with the amount you've been taking on lately. Come over on Wednesday for a relaaaaaxing sesssion.

Jess said...

What a fantastic management plan. I am printing this off to share with my hubby.

Can I answer your question with a question? Did this plan develop over years of parenting or did you both feel pretty sure of these things with your first child? I am of kind of hoping its not the latter as I would like to think we can develop a plan as strong as yours over time. Right now we are a bit hap-hazard and just working it all out as we get through toddler-terrain.

Oh and dont beat yourself up too much about the cranky pants, you are clearly an amazing mum of four who cares deeply for her family and as my friend said to me recently - all parenting styles aside; children need to know that their parents are human too and yes, we can have tantrums sometimes too!

Jess said...

Oops - sorry about the essay of a comment!!

Christie said...

I think you have some great strategies in place, and I'm sure writing them out will help you get back on track (I know I have done that before too).
Give yourself a time out (if you can) and you will be that gentler parent again before you know it.
Take care x

MultipleMum said...

Still making it up as we go Jess. Poor Nugget (our first child) has been the guinea pig and has probably had harsher treatment than the others while we were working things out.

Happy to report I had a much better day today :) More hugs, less yelling. Happier household. Cranky pants must be in the wash. x

Gill@OurParklife said...

Oh well I have had my cranky pants on today too...Our normal (fairly) peaceful bedtime routine went out the window and I could not get the boys off to sleep...I was calm, calm, calm, then suddenly I LOST IT AND HAD A GOOD RANT AT MY TODDLER. Was uneccesary behaviour on my part, but we are only human after all, and sometimes such exhausted humans that yes, we wear our cranky pants! (Or even board the poopy train!)

GREAT behaviour management tips....Number 8 is an important one for me....

Jodie at Mummy Mayhem said...

Sounds like you've got this all under control. The 1, 2, 3 thing works so well for us. The 8yo kept going in to my study the other day with his friend, after I'd told him he wasn't to. Eventually, I did the count, and he grabbed his friends arm and said, "Quick. We have to get out now!"

The only downside is that the 3yo, when he wants something, is starting to use counting with me. "I want to go the park now, Mummy. Ooooone, twoooooo, three!" and then he gets really made. *sigh*

Asashia said...

I left you an award on my blog, enjoy! :)

Emma said...

You sound like you are doing a great job - fantastic plan.

My hubby and I love watching The Amazing Race (yes, this is getting to a relevant point) and this one season we were watching had families competing. And one of these families was a mum, dad, and two young children (maybe around 8 & 10). Anyway, both hubby and I noticed and commented on how lovely their parenting was. All the way through the show, there were so many praises of the kids' behaviour. Of a job well done. Of a good try (not over the top or anything, just right). And it was odd for us to notice and comment as we weren't parents yet.

And I thought, that is how I want to be. Sure, there will be discipline where required, but I want to always make an effort to catch and praise the good rather than only notice and chastise the bad.

So yep, long story, but that is my hope for parenting. DD is only months away from the terrible twos, so no doubt this resolve will start to be tested. But I hope I will always remember the hope we had for our parenting style.

life in a pink fibro said...

I knew I was a horrible, unfun parent. I wear my cranky pants all the time. I shout. A lot. Despite my best efforts. Sigh. Will pin your plan to the wall and try harder.

MandyE (Twin Trials and Triumphs) said...

These are great guiding principles! I'm bookmarking YOU on this one! :)

I know what you mean about Cranky Pants. I feel like such a little kid sometimes when my cranky side comes out. I don't remember feeling pouty before kiddos...maybe crankiness (from the kiddos) is contagious on some level?

Hope you have a great week and manage to shed your Cranky Pants. :) (And thanks for adding my blog to the M&M site on Saturday!)

Toast said...

Great ideas all - I plan to try em all! I had a complete Cranky Suit of Armor on today, due to rain and the third week of school holidays. Tomorrow, instant perfection! ;-)

Veronica said...

Fantastic ideas!

Megan said...

Some great tips there - I'll be needing those!

Mama Cass said...

Oh, I love the 'thinking spot' - beats the 'naughty corner'. Great advice!

Brenda said...

Love the 'thinking spot' too. Sounds so much better than the 'cheeky corner'!

Be A Fun Mum said...

Great plan!

ash said...

I really needed to read this today, so thank-you! I have been far too cranky lately and need to go into the thinking spot myself! I love your mention of 'holding' - I've found it works wonders! It works for me with DH too, I can calm down much quicker if he just hugs me.
I'll be remembering all your tips!

Nicky Singh said...

I have three kids aged 17, 16 and 2, I have learned over the years to implement a routine that works best for our family. Each child is different and requires various forms of discipline. What worked for one of our kids, didn't work for another.

Go with what feels right for you!

Nicky Singh

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