...because we all have our motley moments!


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Succeeding As a Mom, Take 1001...

Are you ready for my latest attempt at being an effective parent? Our son has been having trouble listening and following directions lately, and rather than going insane from repeating myself a billion times, I turned to a place where I often go when my life is in need of some order. The clip-art file.

In the aftermath of a knock-down-drag-out over bedtime rituals, I created this little display for our refrigerator:



I needed something to convey good and bad to a child who can't read yet, so I went with emoticons. Next, I searched my memory for the things that I know our son LOVES, and I made picture representations of those. Swimming, treats, tv shows, playing at the park...that kind of thing. I then pulled out my teacher stuff and made the little pictures into magnets. While he slept, I put all of these things on the refrigerator door.

The next morning, the little guy ran to the kitchen as usual, and he stopped abruptly. "What's that?" he asked. I explained that the pictures were the things he likes to do and I reviewed them with him. I then explained that if the pictures were on the happy face then he could do those things. If the pictures moved to the sad face because he didn't listen to Mommy and Daddy and follow instructions, then he couldn't have or do that thing for the rest of the day.

The first mishap involved stepping on the cat. He likes to play with her with his feet but he doesn't understand how powerful he is compared to the kitten, so we have a rule that he is not allowed to use his feet on the cat. He did it anyway just after we had discussed it, so I marched to the kitchen and moved Scooby Do to the sad face side. No boxes to check, no difficulty remembering the punishment--Scooby Do is on the sad face thus we were a Scooby Do free household that day.

Next, at dinner the little guy would not sit in his chair to eat or use a fork. He's 3 1/2, what can I say? After warning him, I marched to the kitchen and moved the picture of chocolate to the sad face. He wasn't too concerned, so I marched back to the kitchen and grabbed a few Dove squares, tossed a couple to my husband, and we ate them in front of him. I know, I know, Mom and Dad of the Year, that's us. But guess what? He understood.

So now, if his behavior isn't what it needs to be, I say, "Do I need to move a magnet?" He changes his attitude quickly. Also, I've included a variety of things he likes, so I can make a decision when I get to the pictures about the most advantageous magnet move. I try to choose what I know he cares about without shooting myself in the foot, you know? For example, if he's having a sick day, taking away Scooby Do is not the best way to go. I could, however, take away going to the park, and while I know we wouldn't have gone, he doesn't know that. All he knows is that he has lost a privilege due to his behavior.

Will this work forever? No. Already, when I moved Scooby to the dark side, he looked at the happy side and said, "So, I can still watch Max and Ruby?" We like to emphasize problem solving skills in this household, so it's our own fault. We have had some learning moments that have had positive outcomes, though, so for now it is a great success. The best part is that in the morning he is so eager to get started that he moves all of his magnets back to the happy side. Less work for me!

Hopefully this gets the creative juices flowing--do you have any tips for easy but effective discipline? Let us hear them!

Also, Happy Birthday to the queen Motley Mom, Donna! You make 35 look like the new 25 girl! :)

20 comments:

Bryssy said...

Sweet, Rachel! I say, if it works - use it! We use the "crying couch" and a Pittsburg Steelers Terrible Towel as main forms of discipline in our home. (Your husband, I am sure, would be offended by that!) Basically, if you need to cry, fuss, or whine, you can do that as much or as loud as you want, but only on the crying couch. Also, if you need a moment to yourself to "fix" a behavior we use the terrible towel as our portable naughty spot. I don't use either one too often, but they are effective when I do.

And Donna, happy happy birthday my friend!

Liz said...

Great idea, Rachel! I'm glad it's working out so well for you. Taking away privileges has really worked well for us with Ethan.
You are, however, pretty mean telling everyone Donna is 35. 35? 35 is OLDDDD. ;)

Rachel said...

Liz, I know, I know--you can move one of my magnets. May I suggest the housework one? ;)

Bryssy, I don't know how the hubs feels about it, but I personally LOVE that you use a Terrible Towel for discipline!

Bryssy said...

Just thought I would mention that Donna is older than me. And definitely NOT 35!

Donna said...

Um, yeah, I'm only 32, Rachel. I think you better move your chocolate magnet to the dark side for that one.

And thanks for helping a girl out, Bryssy. You know we're practically the SAME AGE!!!

I love the new behavior strategy, Rachel. It's so hard to be creative and think of meaningful things to take away when you're in the moment of need. This takes away the element of surprise, too, which is great. He knows what he can lose.

Another way to do this is to let him earn good things and move them to the happy face for making good choices, thus reinforcing great behavior.

Thanks for sharing and for the birthday shout-out. I'll get over it...eventually. ;)

Fawnda said...

Rachel-

I love it, simple and useful!

Donna- Happy Birthday! I turned 32 this year too in April... definitely NOT old! : )

Lindsay said...

That's a great idea. I wonder how I could make that work with 3 kids (even though 2 of them can read). The hardest thing for me about taking away things is that I have 3 kids, so if I take away going to the park for one child then I take it away from the other 2 also. And my middle child would do something to act up for the sole purpose of getting that fun thing taken away from her sister....seriously she would.

We have a "chair" for time outs for the 2 yr old, and the older girls have to sit on their bed if they are crying or arguing. That seems to work well most of the time.

Liz said...

I turned 35 last month. That's why I said that about being old. :)

Lindsay said...

I just had one of those mommy moments, that once the situation was under control and your children were safe, you go in the other room and cry (which isn't really like me), because you don't know what else to do. Not a good day (week) to be a single parent. My stress level is through the roof and I stil have no idea what I am going to do with the "child".

Not really sure of how this relates to this post, but traditional punishments aren't going to work this time, and I didn't want to talk about it on facebook but needed to get it out. So I came here.

Donna said...

Sorry, Lins! Those are very tough moments! Especially when you don't have backup. What happened?

Liz said...

Put her in her room by herself and ignore any sounds she makes. That will give you time to calm down and her time (hopefully) to change her attitude. It works for Ethan sometimes. Call me if you need me!

Lindsay said...

I would do that but we have to leave now to go to Dance. She has a recital on Saturday so I would be really bad to not let her practice tonight (she has a "place" which would mess up the other girls). But she is coming straight home eatting dinner and going to bed afterwards. She won't be attending t-ball practice tonight. Of all the nights I don't get to run it's a night at I really need the stress relief. :(

Bryssy said...

My great grammy called it "Arsenic Hour" and so do I. Seriously. Sometimes, either I need it or they do. Well, someone somewhere does!

Today, our self-proclaimed "big boy" made it on to yellow at school and it has continued at home (and he really should be on red). Mommy don't play yellow. We are green people in this family! Good thing daddy got home when he did or I would be the one on red.

Maybe it's just an Arsenic DAY! Hope things get better for you, Lindsay!

Karly said...

Rachel, I love this idea. Very creative. I am a visual learner myself, so I appreciate this type of thing. And my kids seem to respond too. Thanks for the idea!

Lindsay, I go in the shower and cry as hard as I can. Then when I get out I make myself a treat or call a friend. That seems to help. And I like Liz's idea. Leaving the child in the room. For a long while. While you are regrouping. Do you have to let them out??

And I was out of town all weekend, so I didn't comment on my own post. But I must say I was very amused by all of your "ironic" stories. Thanks for sharing!!

John said...

The Terrible Towel is a reward in some places.

Liz said...

I agree, John. Using the Terrible Towel as a place for punishment makes my heart hurt. However, I've told Bryssy this before, so I didn't feel the need to tell her again. Except that maybe I just did. Oops!

Bryssy said...

I know, I know, but isn't the name just right for a thinking place? Plus, what else do you do with a Terrible Towel when you don't watch sports and don't live in Pittsburg?? It's not like that is really an attractive yellow color...

John & Liz you can come and sit on our Terrible Towel any time you like! :-) For you it can be a reward!

Karly said...

I just realized that I neglected to wish Donna a happy birthday. So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DONNA!! Hope it was a blast! And I hope the next 35 years are even more wonderful than the last 35 years. Hee-Hee. I know you are only 32, but the whole dialogue above was very amusing. To me. Probably not to you. Ha! Hope your birthday was happy anyway! And hopefully we can meet up this summer!

Maria said...

Happy Birthday Donna! Hope you are having a wonderful birthday week!

I have a chart for each girl (from Dave Ramsey's website) and they get paid for simple chores weekly. The catch is that dollars get taken off if they break house rules, ie, totally not listening, hurting with words or hands, and lying.

They love their spending money so it really hurts when I pay out and then THEY have to give me back the money they lost because of behavior.

This has cut down the nagging at stores and is teaching them the value of "stuff" while correcting behaviour that drives me INSANE!

Donna said...

Thanks for the birthday wishes, girls! It's been a great week!