Monday, January 31, 2011

A Discipline Chart that Works

Last week I taught a parenting class about discipline--inspired by an amazing program Saren teaches at Retreats called Family Systems. 

Several people who weren't able to make it to the class asked if I'd send them some of the information we covered, so I thought I'd post it here on the blog for easy access.  

There are two main reasons I want to discipline my children well.

(1) I want them to turn out as competent, capable, happy, disciplined adults, and if I let them do whatever they want while they're young, they're not just going to make a transformation once they turn 18.  Positive discipline is helpful to children--it gives them confidence in their parents and a good sense that they are loved.

(2) I don't like yelling and spanking and feeling out of control.  When I'm not on top of things, all of us get a little grumpy with each other, and then our home isn't anywhere close to being a heaven.  I love my family, and I want to create a home where all of us want to be. 

In our Family Systems program, we talk about ways to

(1) Create a positive, loving home environment

(2) Deal with negative behavior in a positive way, and

(3) Help children to do things that we need them (and want them) to do

(I'll just go through the basics of these ideas, and if you want to hear more, we'd love for you to join us at one of our Retreats.)

(1) Create a positive, loving home environment

Discipline isn't just about "time outs."  It's about helping our children want to be good.  There are so many ways to create great relationships in the home
  • give our children plenty of praise
  • get down on their level and speak to them eye-to-eye
  • give lots of hugs and kisses
  • REALLY listen when they're telling you all about their Lego guy
  • give them lots of choices (do you want to open the car door or shall I?)
  • don't belittle them or call them names
These things might seem like "no-brainers," but when I took the discipline pre-test that Saren issued at the last retreat, I didn't do so well.  When I'm stressed and frustrated, I don't feel like being a patient, loving, kind mom, but that's exactly when it's the most important.

(2) Deal with negative behavior in a positive way

Getting angry never helps anyone.  Neither does making threats that won't be followed through ("If you don't stop yelling, we're going home!" or "You're going to be grounded for two months.")  I kept taking screen time away from one of my children until that child was going to spend about 19 months without any TV or computer games (and that's really hard to enforce . . . and won't necessarily change the behavior).

The Eyre's Values Parenting site has some INCREDIBLE resources.  Click here to see their 5 simple family rules.  

Our family liked them so much that we made them into our Perry Family Rules, and we created a chart to keep track.  Many times, we can use the natural consequences outlined by the Eyres, but sometimes we've found that it works better to have our children "move their clips" like they do at school.

Here's a photo of the chart we keep on the side of the refrigerator:

Each time a rule is broken, the clip is moved down the chart.  Those within the Start/Warning region still get dessert that night (if we have it . . . I don't tell them if it's a dessert night or not in advance).

Then those who had 5, 20, or 30 minutes of disciplined time don't get dessert.  My children are the ones who put this chart together, and they're all really good about following through with the consequences.  I love it because there's no emotion attached to misbehavior anymore.  I just say, "Move your clip, please."

We also added a little bonus: if you go a whole week without moving your clip, you get to be the King or Queen for a Day.  You pick the meals, you don't have to do any other cleaning jobs, and you get to be in charge of our activities.  That has been WONDERFUL for us. 

(3) Help children to do things that we need them (and want them) to do

There's a ton of information that could be shared here, but basically, we want to have incentives in place to inspire children to behave well.

Pamela Palmer wrote a great article for our website called "Responsibility Lids" which I think of all the time.  I just need to get around to making the lids.

We do have a little chart that lists each child's responsibilities, but Pamela's idea is much better.

Spencer is yelling for me, so I need to run, but I'll list one more thing that's helped us.  It's called "Seeing Need Points."  Our children get points for seeing a need and filling that need.  Alia and Grace helped me make a podcast on it a couple of months ago.

To find out more about our "Seeing Need" podcast, click here.

Each family needs to adjust their discipline plan in a way that works for them, but these three main ideas of creating a positive environment, dealing with negative behavior in a positive way, and putting incentives in place to help our children want to do good things have really helped me.

I don't feel the need to yell or nag or "do everything myself" anymore because we are all working together to create a peaceful, ordered home that has truly become my heaven on earth (about 85% of the time).

If any of you have any other thoughts or suggestions, I'd love to hear them.  I am ALWAYS up for new ideas, and I would appreciate you sharing.


  1. It sounds a lot like the "Love and Logic" program. I love it. It has helped me so much. I love your chart though. I have some teenage wannabees that I need something positive for, and silly enough to make them laugh once in a while. I think this just might do the trick! They like to pretend that they are too big for things like this, but they really do like them. This is simple enough that they just might enjoy it.

  2. I am going to make a chart like this tonight! I have been working on handling each child based upon their individual love language - which to be honest is sometimes a struggle. Yesterday in particular was a difficult day in the obedience area. I think a chart like this will help - something visual and something positive! Thanks April!!

  3. Patty Ann, I love the "Love and Logic" program as well. And I'd love to hear if this chart works for your "teenage wannabees." It's true that it's kind of elementary, but I tell my children, "If you want to act like a child, I will discipline you accordingly." :)

    And Heather, I'm so with you on the struggle to handle each child individually. I'm still working on that, as well. I try to couple this chart with lots of love, and it's seriously been working like a charm for several months (the longest any chart has ever worked for us). Good luck!

  4. This could not have come at a better time for our family- we are making it today!!! Thanks so much April!

  5. I used this in the summer when kids were home and arguments seemed more prevalent. Only my older kids would frustrate the punishment with "don't you believe in the power of repentance, Mom?".

    I don't know when they get too smart for their own good.

    And .. I need more ideas for older kids!

  6. Marlowe, you're ahead of me there, so please teach ME what to do with teenagers!

  7. I can't wait to learn more about this at Myrtle Beach!

  8. hi im a single mother of two wonderful kids a 5 year old girl and 7 year old boy and im struggling a bit with our ways in our daily life...for example my family is very loud and well i believe that being loud is to be used like for a SUPRISE or praising someone or just being loud in a gathering or what not etc.. but like i have found myself having to raise my voice when asked the kids to do something and its like a rollercoaster i raise my voice and then my mother starts and all you hear is UP Up UP down down Up Up Up down down and i dont like it and i need to find a way to make that work for my family. i have thought of making a chart for the family of like IMPROVEMENT but i dont know how to forward on that. i want them to follow a chart so that they recognize that they make good choices they get a simple reward or something around that line. but i need help i dont know how to begin. so if anybody has any ideas throw them out there. thank you for your time

  9. Hey April,

    My son does not get any toys these days. If he is good, he gets 50 pence every morning. Nobody buys him any toys either, just gives him money - birthdays and other occasions.

    This helps while being out and doing shopping a lot.



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