Add List Making to your parenting practices and see how you can change your family dynamic this month…

Who doesn’t feel better as they check things off their list?
Putting all this info down on paper, helps us to set goals and remember what we don’t want to forget.

Here are some list ideas to get you started…
The Training List…. What are the social and emotional skills you need to teach your kids?  When you see a negative pattern of behavior from your child, note it on your training list.  This list is simply a list of the things you have recognized as something you need to go over with your child outside of the moment.  Keep this list in mind when you have a teachable moment with your child.  Use your child to help problem solve the situation and don’t forget to do most of your teaching and training using visuals (draw or act out what you would like it to look like next time) and avoid the long lecture or emotional ranting and raving.

The Stop and Go Behavior List:  What are the Stop Behaviors that you would like to see go BYE BYE?  What are the replacement behavior options that you need to train (teach, model and practice)?

The Leverage List:  What are the positive things that your child wants that you could use as leverage for good choice making?  What are the things they love and already have that you could take away if needed?  These “things” don’t need to be things at all… They can be simply adding in an extra five minutes on the iPad,  a special trip to the library with mom,  a walk around the block with dad…. Whatever makes your child soar… Let’s work towards it!  Or If you feel like your child has so much already,  let’s start working towards earning these things instead of just handing them over without good choice making.  This list will be fluid and ever changing as your child’s interests and development ebbs and flows.  So add to it whenever you see a window of leverage,  and make sure you run to it when you need to secure a solid and meaningful consequence.

The Calming List:   What are the things that help your child calm themselves?  If you have a list of these, look at it and use it to help them calm down when they need to PAUSE.  Each child in your home will have different things that work, so your list should be specific to the child.  You can also post images and/or words to have the options readily available for your child when they need to choose how they will calm down.   This list can be ever changing too, so keep adding to it as you see your child new methods to regulate their emotions.  If there is something that really works to help calm them, make sure to purposely plug these calming strategies into their day.  If you are like most parents you might want to think of a list of things to help you calm when you are upset.

The Elephant List:  When your child wants to do something right now, but it just isn’t the time or place to do it, use your elephant list to write it down and help your remember.    The Elephant list helps  you remember  what you promised.   The list becomes your reminder and your child will feel safe knowing that although the answer is NO now it might be YES later.    Good News:   your child will feel like they are being heard… Bad News:   you actually have to play that 100th game of Candyland sometime in the near future.

Step Up your Time Out Strategies

time outWhat is your current method for dealing with poor behavior choices?Odds are it involves some form of Time Out.

When we look up what the definition of a time-out is we find this:

Time out is a technique in which a child is removed from activity and forced to sit alone for a few minutes in order to calm down.

Time out is usually a punishment or consequence surrounded by negative emotions, words and actions.  It usually involves isolation for a set time and it is always designed and controlled by the  parent.

If Time out is working,  you will know because your child won’t have to go there all day everyday.  If instead,  you are finding that every 15 minutes you are dragging your child to time out only to have him turn around and do it all again, IT’s NOT WORKING!!!

I really can’t say this enough.

If your current method of dealing with behaviors  is not working, then try something else.!

It has been my experience that Time Out (as described above) works best if we include it as one of the set steps within our CONSEQUENCE CONTINUUM.

TIME OUT cannot be THE BE ALL END ALL of your behavior modification plan.

So what other steps should you have on this consequence continuum?  My theory is that we need our kids to begin to regulate self and this needs to be our main concern.  This means that  they will begin to recognize what is not working for them,  think about choices and get themselves together on their own without us dragging them through the Time Out shenanigans all day everyday.

Here are some quick steps to include in your Consequence Continuum…

1.  Give them CHANCES to get it together before we drag them to Time out.
2.  Help them come up with ALTERNATIVE choices for dealing with their world.
3.  PREVIEW and TEACH the new choices through modeling and reminding.
4.  Give them PRACTICE making better choices  in successful small increments of time
5.  Let them REWIND so they can do it better, say it nicer, or try it another way.
6.  Offer a chance to PAUSE and TAKE a BREAK so that they can calm on their own
7.  Choose ZONES or ACTIVITIES that encourage calming and regrouping.   Try to make the TAKE A BREAK ZONE include choices and a spot that is different than TIME OUT… because Time out has usually been a punishment TAKE a BREAK ZONE has to be more positive.
8.  Allow your child a chance to come out of break when they are ready to rejoin the social scene
9.  If they just can’t get it together, or if they have done something that is off the charts bad then they will have to go to a TIME OUT where they are firmly escorted and they TAKE A LOSS

Having layers or steps in your plan will allow the child to taste the sweet success of self control and regulation more often and avoid the defeat of regular time out punishment.   It allows parents more opportunities to catch their child being good and a chance  to tell their child that they noticed that they are growing in their self control.

Remember  in all these, it is the child who has made a choice to go there by choosing the negative behavior.  This takes the pressure off of the parent and it releases some of the emotion tied to consequences.  You love them you just don’t love the behavior and their behavior has led them to the consequence.   If you choose to make a poor choice over and over again you have chosen to go to TIME OUT.  If you choose to get it together through the PREVIEW, REWIND, or TAKE A BREAK steps then you have chosen to avoid TIME OUT.

Hopefully your child will see this play out consistently from you and they will begin to see that getting it together on their own through the first steps is much easier to deal with than going to TIME OUT all day everyday.