Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Simply Discipline

Or an Examination of Conscience for Kids (and mom too!)

Several years ago, when trying to determine if our child was AD/HD, God sent this book my way. This method of parenting has changed our lives. Today, though, I added a new spin on the approach.

Before you can effective discipline your child, you need to clearly identify what behaviors he/she is working on. In the Caregivers Skills Program, there is a list of 17 clear, undeniable behaviors to evaluate. We have been working from this list for a while. The descriptions are broad enough to cover many aspects of life, instead of "clean my room", we focus on "doing as told", "dawdling" and "helplessness/dependency".

Back to the new spin: Summer is here, and every single summer we seem to have an "adjustment" period to our new schedule. And by adjustment I mean, bad behavior. Arguing, fighting, stone walling. You get the idea.

To, hopefully, head this storm off before it hits, I have printed The List of 17. One for each child. We sat down, one by one, to review the list. I added a scale of "I do this often" to "I rarely do this". Asking each child to rate their behavior. Then added my rating to theirs.

But before we begin, we talked about our call the holiness, Confession, how we as Catholics strive to do better, how we can make the change, St. Ignatius. You get the idea. It was a brief introduction, appropriate for the age of the child. Hoping to put this review in a positive light, not a "you are so bad, let's put in writing" speech. More of a "One of the ways Catholics try to get better is to take a minute every once and a while to see how are we doing. This list is a little check for you and me. Something to see the good things you are doing, and where you can do better."

So we began. Talking about each item on the list, what it means, examples of good behavior, bad behavior. Then at the end, I drew a line down the middle to clearly show what was above average and below. Then we re-read the ones below average. I praised each one for the many good things they we doing and asked them to take the list and pray about it. Ask Jesus to help them do better where they needed too.

Finally, I pointed out that this list was nobodies business but yours, mine and God. And one day the list would just be between you and God. No sharing with siblings. (That means, no tattling on whose not doing what). Since we worked on these individually, no one knows the others list. Sound familiar?

There are a few things that may be added to the list to really make it Christian, like "do I hold a grudge" or "do I forgive readily", or maybe "do I share God's love with others?"

The bonus today was that for my oldest, it is the first time since we began working from this list, that I could see how very much he has grown. How many things are so much better today than 5 years ago.

Will this stave off the storm of New Summer Schedule? I hope so, and if not, it certainly helped me see what behaviors I need to focus on with the children.

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