Last updated on September 30th, 2021 at 10:16 am
Discipline. Accountability. Seemingly simple words. Simple, unassuming little words that pack enough punch to send any parent running for the hills fraught with confusion and anxiety. You’ve been entrusted with this perfect little person (sometimes two or three perfect little people!) and now it’s up to you to help them become productive, responsible and accountable members of society. Yikes! Where to start?
There are about as many philosophies to disciplining children as there are stars in the sky. This prospect can be especially daunting for first time parents, because for you, it really is the Wild Wild West. Uncharted. Unknown. No set rules. Do you take grandma’s parenting advice to “spare the rod and spoil the child?” Do you look 180 degrees in the other direction and vow to never lay a finger on your child? Personally, I’m not sure that there’s a definitive right or wrong answer to either question. What I am sure of is that I am not EVEN going to get into that discussion because to do so would be a firestorm of words between the “Grandmas” and the “180 Degree’ers.” What works for you and your family is your family’s business. So all that being said, I’m really excited to share some of my own family’s business, because I’ve hit upon something that works great for us and my hope is that it could work great for yours, too.
Here’s our system. It’s sort of a mish-mash of different ideas taken from a variety of sources like Pinterest (God Bless Pinterest), educational behavioral charts and plain, old-fashioned “Daddy’s going to take you for a treat if you help out and behave” tactics. I love it for SO many reasons, and as you’ll see, there’s more teachable moments here than meets the eye.
Here’s the part I got from Pinterest. Some brilliant person came up with the idea to incorporate these into her discipline system:
Tickets! This big roll of tickets set me back less than $5 at our local dollar store. I doubt that we will ever use the entire roll. Reason #1 I love this system: IT’S DIRT CHEAP. This next part I learned over the years via my job in education: incorporate a behavior chart. A chart, you say? We can’t do a chart. Too much work and I can’t draw a stick person. Well, here’s my chart, and as you can see, it’s certainly nothing fancy:
Glue, paper, markers and a couple of nickels and you’re up and running. (BTW, we like LOVE to play dress up at our house!) And as for effort expended to use it, all it takes is transferring a ticket from one jar to another. One jar for each child and one jar for all the extra tickets. We put these right on top of the TV in the living room so they’re constantly in plain sight.
Looking at the chart, I picked some target behaviors we seem to deal with on at least a weekly basis (if not daily). Simple, age-appropriate skills like respect, getting along and obedience. Also kid-friendly chores, because “I want to do all the housework by myself” said no mom ever. Reason #2 I love this system: GETS THE KIDS TO HELP WITH HO– USEHOLD DUTIES. Need proof? Here are my four year olds happy and excited to scrub the toilets! And sometimes, you won’t believe this but sometimes, they actually argue over who will get to do the chore and get the tickets!! Also, Saturday morning is fabulous because they are trying to earn more tickets and all morning long they ASK what they can do to get some. Score 1 million points for Mom!
Also, Reason #3 I love this system: IT’S COMPLETELY ADJUSTABLE AND PERSONALIZABLE. As your behavior goals and chores for your kids change, your chart can change. Each positive behavior/chore completed gets rewarded with a certain number of tickets. Each ticket is worth 5 cents (refer to Reason #1). On the flip side, negative behaviors cost tickets. And here’s where the “Daddy treats” part comes in. Every Saturday, tickets get counted up, exchanged for money and Daddy walks the kids to the dollar store to buy something special. (t helps to have one of these right across the street!)
Of course, it doesn’t have to be the dollar store and nickels. Your tickets can count for anything that is rewarding to your kids. My husband had just been in the habit of taking ours across the street to buy a candy bar on Saturdays when I came across the ticket idea and thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice if they earned their candy bars?” And the rest was history.
As for the hidden benefits, Reason #4 I love this system: SO MANY MATH CONCEPTS! Counting by ones, counting by fives, grouping, more/less…my four year olds know so much!
And Reason #5 I love this system: MONEY/FINANCE CONCEPTS. Most weeks, the kids earn about $2. This week they had $5 and $6 because they saved for three weeks. MY FOUR YEAR OLDS SAVED FOR THREE WEEKS!
Not to mention Reason #6 I love this system: CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT AND DELAY OF GRATIFICATION. Did I mention they waited three whole weeks to redeem their tickets? 🙂
In conclusion, even being in education I never dreamed that I could pull off a behavior chart-type discipline system at home but strangely enough, this has worked and I see it continuing to work for at least a few more years. In the meantime, I’ll need to address proper bow and arrow etiquette and the proper application of makeup.
This is how our West was won.
Kristie Edmondson is a fledgling satirist hailing from deep, deep Cajun country who, while juggling four and a half year old b/g twins, two adult stepdaughters, a husband, and 3 cats, attempts to pay it forward through her job as a speech language pathologist in the school system. She maintains her sanity by creating…sewing, blogging, occasionally painting…and by locking herself in the bathroom every night promptly at 8pm for some bathtub reading. You can read more on her blog Twin Skin and Back Again at www.krispyguillory.wordpress.com.