Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Works for Me

This is my first time. Please be gentle...

We have recently revamped our system of discipline.

The boys are getting older (22 months, and 7 years) and things were beginning to get a bit out of hand. They keep coming up with new & innovative ways to break rules, "shurk the work" and generally get into trouble.

My husband & I realized over Christmas vacation that we were doing a lot of reacting, and it rarely turned out good. (Think crying, stomping, yelling full-on temper tantrums... and that was just me!)

So, we implemented three new tools that have stopped the virtual spin cycle that had become our house.

The first thing we did was to sit down with our 7 year old & work together to put those unspoken household rules (you know, like "speak to others with respect" and "obey Mom & Dad") into a clear & concise list. The list was written out & posted in the kitchen. (Isn't it nice when kids start to read fluently???)
The second thing we did was to think up some creative (and useful) consequences for breaking those rules. We wrote them on strips of paper & put them into the consequence jar. Some examples of consequences you might find in this jar include:

"wash the kitchen floor" - I don't know about you, but mine seems to be a magnet for all things sticky.
"Put five words into alphabetical order" - because this is a great skill to practice when you are in 1st grade.
"Empty recycle bag into large can" - there is always something to be taken outside.
"Scoop the poop" - we have two dogs and a fenced backyard. If it's raining, there is a gecko cage upstairs.

Here's the really fun part: if Mommy or Daddy break a rule, they, too, must draw out a consequence & get it done.

Attitude during consequences is faced with additional consequences being drawn out & completed. (The family record was four in a row - it was not set by me.)

It's working wonderfully. Ty gave himself a consequence last week because he realized he had disrespected me (after I gave him my "mom look.")

I should mention that Riley is exempt from the consequence jar at this time. He's too little to understand & do most of the stuff, so he still gets a minute on the rug when he needs a correction.

The other thing we did was to implement "Sticks."

We have given Ty an allowance for several years. He can do specific chores & extra things around the house to earn money. Since the chores that need to be done are different each day, they are written in a notebook for quick reference. We give one craft stick per chore or helpful deed, and at the end of the week, the sticks are exchanged for cash. (Each stick is worth a dime. Daddy just gave us all a raise - cheapskate Mommy was only giving a nickel per stick...) Until recently, Ty was the only one who received sticks.

But, in the face of a few really lazy weeks, we decided to make sticks available to anyone who gets the work done. Each family member has a cup (they will be more stylish cans, as soon as I save enough) on the table in the hallway.

The person who does the work gets a stick in their cup. Ty is the official family stick counter. This means that at the end of the day, he has an opportunity to see how helpful each family member was that day, based on how many sticks they got. Last week, his little brother helped do all but one of the chores while Ty loafed on the couch. Ty really began to understand the system.

Now, they do not get sticks for some things, like keeping their rooms clean, clearing their own dishes from the table, picking up their toys in the living room, or generally taking care of their own stuff. But, they do get sticks for things like helping me unload the dishwasher, helping me with laundry, dusting the baseboards & swiffering the floors.

I know allowances & discipline can be controversial topics, but this is what 'works for me.'

For more great WFMW ideas, visit We are That Family


  1. I have four boys and am always looking for way to encourage helping with a good attitude. I also like the discipline jar idea! Thanks for sharing.

  2. We had something similiar to your discipline jar, but my mom called it the chore jar. Every day, in addition to our normal chores, we had to pull something from the chore jar to do.

    May I just say that I love, love, LOVE the fact that you and your husband will also pull from the discipline jar. I grew up in a household where mom and dad were ALWAYS right and I never heard them apologize. Children learn from example and it sounds like you are doing a great job!

  3. These are awesome ideas! I love the sticks idea...I think my six year old would really get into that...and probably get after me too :)


I would love to hear from you (as long as you're not a robot.)!