Saturday, 10 July 2010
Our Stellar Behaviour Management Plan
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.