I mentioned awhile ago that we’ve made some conscious changes in our parenting and that I would blog about it….and then I didn’t:) Life’s been busy, what can I say?!
Every so often, when necessary, Ben and I sit and just talk about our parenting and any issues that may have arisen with the boys (and there usually is something!) and how we want to deal with it or change our approach. This happened a few weeks ago after some behavior changes in the boys, especially Samuel. Samuel is our sweet sensitive boy. He does not tolerate anger or correction well, especially from Ben. We would like to protect his sweet, gentle heart while also teaching him to listen well and obey and receive gentle correction. We often find ourselves putting undue pressure on him just because he is the oldest! We expect him to set a good example for Z and “act his age” (which he does!) and listen immediately and well….be perfect. He was getting really frustrated and we realized that we needed to focus more on all of his really great qualities and all of the wonderful things that he does.
We made a chart for him a long time ago, around the age of 2. I redid it in the last few months to reflect his age. He helped me make it, cutting out pictures from magazines, glueing, etc, which made him feel pretty proud! It has several categories on the side, such as “Helping mommy around the house”, “Good Behavior (listening, being kind, gentle, using nice words, etc), “Cleaning up toys”…. And on the top are the days of the week. I put velcro on the squares of the chart and on the backs of the stickers I made. Everytime he exhibits good behavior that we notice, he gets a sticker and for every 5 stickers, he gets a prize! We have a prize bucket that we keep up on the fridge stocked with cheap Target $1 toys, stickers, etc.
We realized we needed to reward him more often so we also have a “special” chart next to his regular chart where he gets to color off squares and work for a Thomas train. The behaviors for this chart are generally the more immediate ones that we really need to focus on right away. For example, the first one we did in the fall was “Staying dry at naptime and other potty behavior”, a more recent one was “Staying in Bed and good nighttime behavior.” The chart you see above was his recent one that took him 2 1/2 months to complete! He earned Duncan the train as a reward and HE WAS PROUD. It is amazing how effective these charts are! His newest chart is going to be to earn Peter Sam (you guessed it! Another train…) and it is focusing on behaviors out in public. For instance: listening well to other adults, good behavior this week at VBS, etc. He LOVES to color off these squares! We think he really deserves these prizes, too! He also gets a lot of verbal praise (so that he doesn’t only behave for prizes and stickers), hugs, etc.
We have also been really focusing on our tone of voice with the boys. We were getting frustrated with behaviors and noticed that we were raising our voices more and, as I confessed above, focusing on Samuel’s behavior a lot. It’s so easy as a parent (or a human!) to get low on patience when there is a lot going on, at certain times of the day (can we say dinnertime?) or when you are frustrated by certain behaviors. We are really making the conscious decision to speak calmly and yet firmly, get down on the boys’ level, explain our reasoning (esp to Samuel who understands) and most importantly, LISTEN to Samuel. We feel it’s really important that we respect our boys as we parent and discipline so that they know they are being heard by us.
The chart wall. Zakkai now has a chart, too! (the blue one!) and LOVES to get stickers and prizes!
Parenting is tough and, for us, an amazing way to change and better ourselves for our children. How else are they going to learn respect, gentleness, patience, kindness, forgiveness, etc, unless they see it modeled before their eyes? We make so many mistakes and can only pray that God will cover us in those mistakes. We adore our boys and are so thankful that we were honored with the gift of loving them! There are many more things that we do but I thought I’d just share a couple of things that we are focusing on and that work for us!