The Well Behaved Child
I mentioned that I had started this book awhile back...and then got distracted. Meanwhile, David read it and immediately wanted to implement some of the ideas. However, I wasn't entirely on board mentally and that made it hard to implement effectively. I hadn't read the whole thing, and we needed to have some more conversations to refine our ideas. I am feeling more and more "on board" as we have narrowed some things down and my brain is more in gear.
Basically, we have implemented a "strike" discipline system for targeting certain behaviors and habits. Each child has 3 target behaviors or habits. If they violate the goal, they get a strike. After 3 strikes something very bad happens to them (Rosemond is big on the punishment being bigger than the crime. It has to hurt bad enough to work.) Currently, the punishment here for 3 strikes is complete loss of all electronic privileges for the next day. (What?! No listening to adventures in odyssey during breakfast with the other kids?! Oh shock! Oh horror!) Another option is going to bed directly after supper (not our current choice because of schedule and logistical challenges of being consistent.)
As I read things, I tend to read with the critical voice of others in my head. (i.e. “If you would just SPANK them with a switch or paddle more you wouldn’t have any negative behaviors to target! Train them like you train a mule and they will always obey without hesitation”….etc.) And perhaps there is always room for criticism if reading with a tunnel vision mindset, but it is proving to be a valuable tool for us for several reasons. I have found myself in that mode before (with multiple little ones) where the only thing I could think of to do is spank bottoms! Certainly a good and biblical option, but there are so many other creative and sometimes more effective ways of training that can leave spanking for some heavier things (in our opinion: disobedience, rebellion, lying).
One of the big things this system is helping me with is focus. I tend to get overwhelmed by all the things I want to "work on" with my kids. It seems to be a never ending process! Sometimes I feel like I’m slinging mud on the wall trying to fix everything at once (and wearing us all out) instead of purposefully & strategically targeting a specific behavior or habit until it is conquered. Issues like: Saying "yes ma'am" and “no sir” without being reminded, not leaving their room until it meets the clean standards we have set up, always speaking kindly, coming directly back to me if they need assistance to complete a command, using self control when a sibling is driving you bonkers, picking up after yourself, keeping a good attitude (including facial expressions and body language), not dawdling during chores, etc. This system is helping me to be able to focus with more purpose on the target behaviors we have chosen, knowing that consistency is the key and we will soon be able to move on to new things on the target list.
Rosemond has also helped me to remind me of the ever-present most important thing: stay calm & be consistent! And to think my way around some other ideas….you don’t always have to discipline the same offense with the same punishment. You just have to discipline consistently. And…you don’t have to do the punishment in that very moment (except for younger years when they need immediate results). Rosemond says, ‘Do what you can, when you can.’ This has helped. If a kid is unkind to their siblings at a busy time (before church or at the store, for instance) when we can’t exactly administer a discipline, later when everyone else is doing something fun or when they ask to do something, we can say….no…you were very harsh with your brother yesterday at the store, so you won’t be having that privilege today.
Another thing I really needed was the “alpha talk” talk. Be matter of fact. Speak what you expect – with authority - like you mean it, then walk away. Short and sweet, administer without emotion. Less explanation. Fewer words is better. Not exactly my forte. : 0 But I am listening and learning. : )
As with any reading, you have to read with a sifter in hand. Sift out what doesn’t apply to you and keep the good nuggets that can help you to think better. Some of this book is about severely out-of-hand or rebellious children. (A good tool to know about when a friend or someone at church or school comes to you desperate with a rebellious child.) Not all of it applies to us, but there is enough good to be gained and applied in our own way.
Another good book (our first Rosemond book) is the Six-Point Plan.