Discipline chart

You can probably tell by the blog post deficit around here that I am super busy after returning to work. Golly, you'd think they missed me or something.

Anyway, I have been meaning to post a little something about how we handle discipline around here because I know it's something that makes most parents crazy. Fortunately, I learned a few things as a pre-k/kindergarten teaching assistant and in the days when I was watching my friends' kids around 3-5 years B.K. (B.K..=before kids), I got rather hooked on watching those nanny shows. I never felt okay on a personal level with swatting/spanking...I've rarely seen anyone who could execute this disciplinary choice with stoic Vulcan emotions, and I don't like the idea of taking out your emotions/anger on the kids, who are simply making mistakes to learn. You can't learn without making mistakes and pushing boundaries. Our job as parents is to protect them and to set boundaries and help children come to respect them.

Putting aside any Foucauldian issues I have with the word "discipline," I want to show you one of my favorite approaches, and it works very well. We used it at Bryant Elementary when I worked there.

Cousin Noah is on this chart too because he and Arthur are tight homies and he's at our house often. Both boys get a clothespin. This would look way cooler if I wasn't pouring most of my creativity energy into work projects right now, but it's functional and that's what matters.

The color system is easy for a three-year-old to understand, and the emoticon faces are there because since the kids can't read, I felt it wasn't fair to use words they can't decipher and expect them to remember them.

Here's what happens: at the end of the day, if anyone is on green, he gets a sticker and can move forward on his game board.

Obviously, this was the starter board for the kids to kind of come to grips with the concept...the next will need to be bigger/more complex or we'll be shelling out prizes all the time. Notice the fourth day on green gets candy, the seventh gets ice cream, et cetera, until they reach the top prize, a toy. I just used random clip art from the web and colored paper and posterboard to put this together. Because there are two boys, until they both come to recognize their own names I've made it easier by putting their pictures at the top.

Picking out stickers is fun; we let the kids pick out their own and stick them on. This is also a good time to teach working toward goals and talk about how proud you are of them and what they are doing very well at and need to work on, just generally showing your appreciation for how hard they are trying. Encouragement is a very important part of this process.

One final note about the red-yellow-green system is that kids LOVE to be on green. There could be no prize and they want to be on green. Little kids thrive on rules and order because it gives them a sense of stability, as long as the rules and order are positive reinforcement. 

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