This last part in my Changes series is all about how Nick and I will be handling discipline and teaching our boys that there are consequences for their poor choices.
About a year ago I read up on Love & Logic and decided that would be a good direction to move (we had been using 1,2,3 Magic and found it wasn’t so magical anymore). I loved the idea of filling my day with “Uh Oh!” and “Bummer.”, and imagined it would be much less stressful on all of us.
Things went well for a while, but then we started falling into old habits: empty threats (“do that one more time….”), a whole lot of time outs, some yelling on my part, and most importantly, the boys just didn’t care about any of it. *sigh*
Moving Past Time Outs
We’ve decided to stick with Love & Logic, but do a little pre-planning so we can move past Time Outs/time in their room (which is a part of L&L, but a small part). Our problem is we can’t seem to think on our feet fast enough when it comes to a good consequence for their actions! We don’t want to keep just dragging them down to their room and setting the timer for 4 minutes, especially when they come out just as irritated as they went in (usually).
Part 1 – Serious Offenses
“Serious Offenses” are things we really, really don’t like and want to nip in the bud. Now. Currently, those items are: violence, screaming, continuing to not listen in public (even after they know they won’t be earning a Screen Time ticket), direct disobedience/telling us “No”.
When one of the boys commits a serious offense, we say “Oh, that’s a bummer! You need to go pick a consequence now.” To pick their consequence, they reach into a small bucket and pull out a folded slip of paper (without looking), and on that paper is their punishment. If they protest, whine, cry or charge at me (to head-butt me or hit me) then I start quickly counting down from 5 (for some reason, counting backwards gets them moving faster). If I reach 1 and they haven’t picked, then I will pick for them.
Loss of a Screen Time Ticket
Do a Punch Card Chore, but no punch is earned
5 Minutes in their room
Go to bed 30 minutes early
Sitting in the car for ___ number of minutes the next time we go someplace fun.
Grace is a Gift
Yep, they could pull that “Grace is a Gift” card and get off with no punishment. We felt like teaching them about grace and how we can’t earn it was important to do. Obviously the boys always hope they draw that one. I tell you what, go to bed 30 minutes early is probably the least popular consequence!
Part 2 – Energy Drain
The Energy Drain is something that appealed to me in the L&L book, but I could not for the life of me figure out how to do it! I think I’ve got it now! Woohoo! Nick needs a little practice, but I think if he watches me Energy Drain a couple of times he’ll “get it”.
(For those that don’t know what the Energy Drain is, you can read about it on this PDF from the Love & Logic website.)
Energy Drain offenses:
Fighting with each other (but not to the point of violence)
Other random things as they come up and I find myself annoyed
Ok, so to help us out when we’re in the heat of the moment, I came up with a list of ways the boys could re-charge my energy. Some of these are the same as the consequence slips of paper, but the difference with the Energy Drain, is they have control over when and how to re-charge my energy.
Loss of toys
Punch card chore (no punch)
Screen Time ticket
Physical Activity (jumping jacks, running around the house, etc)
The other day, Ty was whining incessantly and it was driving me up the wall! Here’s what went down:
Me: Oh no…. Ty, your whining is draining my energy!
Ty: More whining
Me: Oh dear. I don’t think I’m going to have the energy to make your lunch.
Ty: Whining Please, Mommy! Please make my lunch!
Me: Ty, I don’t have the energy to. You’ll need to re-charge my energy so I can make your lunch. Do you want some ideas of how to do that?
Me: You could do a chore for me, or give me a screen time ticket…. Or maybe you could do 20 jumping jacks for me.
Ty: whining still I’ll do jumping jacks. You count though!
He then proceeded to do 20 jumping jacks in the kitchen, and you know what? He was laughing by the end of it! Hallelujah!
So there you have it – our new plan of attack when it comes to behavior, chores and limiting screen time. We’re 10 days in and I’m loving it so far! I’ll do an update at some point of things that aren’t maybe working long term, or new ideas we’ve added to the mix.
If you have creative energy drain ideas, or new things I could add to my slips of consequences, please share them in the comments! I’d love to hear them, and I’m sure others would too.
ETA @ 12:00pm 7/11/12: I feel like I need to clarify that this is just part of how we are customizing Love and Logic. We still ignore some annoying behaviors. We still say things like “I will speak with you when you can speak calmly/nicely/respectfully”. If books are torn, they lose access to other books and trips to the library (for example). We are giving them “this or that” choices throughout the day (usually the Kid of the Day makes the group decision). The things I wrote about here are to help Nick and me stay on task more than anything. We don’t want to just stick them in TO for every infraction, but without more of a structure that seems to be what we fall back into.