I’ve really been struggling lately with how to discipline Ella. As she navigates through her first adolescence she is pushing the limits of what is acceptable behavior and discovering what consequences she is willing to live with. In the meantime, I am scrambling to stay afloat with effective methods to deal with this conflict head on.
I’ve learned that discipline is not all about punishing, but it is instructing. The whole goal is to teach her what she should and shouldn’t do, in order to help her become the person she should be. A punishment without instruction, explanation and clarified expectations just makes her bitter and resentful. And without getting into the psychobabble behind it all, I believe that instruction without the potential for punishment is not entirely effective. I realize that an important part of administering punishments for bad behavior is to follow through with warnings and promised consequences. This builds ‘contractual trust.’ She knows that what I say will happen, will happen. But I longed for a better way!
Enter positive discipline (a.k.a. the rewards chart.) What started as a piece of paper and stickers for clearing her plate (what a struggle mealtime was, remember lasagna?) has turned into this full-blown customizable wooden/magnetic chart.
Instead of only being able to say, “if you don’t do this, you will go in time out” I can now say “If you do this you will get a smiley!” at which her eyes get wild and she says through a wide grin “I get a smiley!”
Now, honestly I had never heard of positive discipline before typing this post, but I Googled it and found this link to Dr. Jane Nelson’s website where apparently there are entire books about it…who knew? I signed up for the newsletter and received a copy of her free positive discipline guidelines, they’re worth checking out.
I can only say the results so far have been great. It is so nice to have something as a dad that does not involve yelling or lectures or time outs but that I can build my daughter up with. I am very excited about the possibilities of this little chart!
Do you other dads use anything like this? Leave a comment!
Also, I found this website for free printable behavior charts if you don’t happen to have a wooden magnetic chart lying around.
Here’s some of what we’re currently working on:
Say Please and Thank you
Clean your plate (all gone)
Feed Roxy (with assistance)
Put clothes in wash (with assistance)
Clean up toys
Say your Cubbie’s verse