Well, since I have a 25 month old, a 16 month old and a 7 month old, I think I am just really interested in how you teach your children the right behavior.
I am, obviously, far from a professional. However, I do think I have fairly well-behaved children and so I feel comfortable sharing what has worked for us. Please note that I am not writing this post to debate our methods as the best or only. If you have something that is working for you, great! This is simply sharing what has worked for me.
We start teaching obedience as early as we can. We reward for listening and good behavior with hugs and cheers.
We do not start disciplining until we are sure the child can understand what we are talking about and comprehend what we want them to do. In our opinion, this really occurs sometime around 18 months of age.
Our philosophy can be summarized in the following four bullet points. We believe that ...
- delayed obedience is disobedience. For this reason, our children are encouraged to listen immediately, the first time. We do not count. We ask that they obey right away. Here is a link to an online article I discovered this week which discusses this concept.
- we are raising men and women, not children. For this reason, we take the molding of our children very seriously.
- how a child speaks is very important. We are very concerned with tone and respect. We do not tolerate our children talking back or talking rudely. We correct and remind them about this every time.
- patience and consistency is key to success. If it works with dogs, by golly it should work with children. Repetition and rewards are vital! Staying calm is something I strive for continually (but do not always succeed in!)
To summarize this book/philosophy briefly, we present a child with options. You can read the details at my link above, but for illustration, here are just a few examples:
- Isaac does not want to put on his clothes for church. I present him with two options (that I feel comfortable following through with). "Isaac, you can either put on your clothes and go with us to church, or I can make you put your clothes on and when we get home from church, you will not get a popsicle like your brother and sister." Another example of options might be: "Isaac, you can either put on your clothes and go with us to church, or I will stay home with you and you can sit in your room the entire time." You must present two or more options that you are positive you will follow through on. You cannot back out once you present the options!
- Elijah hits his sister. I say to him, "I am very sorry that you made the choice to hit your sister. Because you did that, you have chosen to spend 4 minutes in time-out." The child sees that the punishment is a consequence of a decision he/she made. If I have time, I present this option before they make the bad decision. But sometimes you don't catch what has happened until it is over.
- Abigail does not want to eat her dinner. "I'm sorry you don't want to eat your food. That is your choice. But if you choose not to eat your dinner, you will not get the three marshmallows that your brothers are getting after dinner." The incentive may not even be on the table until I need to put it there. And that's okay. I decided to use marshmallows when I realized that Abigail needed to make a choice.
We use a system of rewards to encourage good behavior. It is our hope that this encouragement means not having to punish for the bad.
We use a chore chart as pictured above. Each boy has a separate chart. They get magnets for their daily chores. At the end of the week, these magnets correlate into marshmallows. It's amazing what they will do for thirty-five tiny marshmallows. Here is a post I wrote detailing how we use the Chore Chart.
Here is a blow up of the chart. Magnets are given for feeding and watering Scrubs, cleaning up toys (two times a day), and saying their memory verse.
We also use pennies for good behavior. Each child has a bank, and I keep a bowl of pennies in front of the bank. I give them a penny for anything and everything I can think of throughout the day. Any time I catch them doing something nice, volunteering to help, using good manners, etc., they get a penny. Periodically, we open up the banks and count the pennies. Every 100 pennies equals $10 that they can spend on something they want. If they have something they have had their eye on we can tell them, "Save your pennies."
**** Updated ***** Now that the boys are older (5 and 6), we have started using 1 penny equals 1 penny system and we have thrown nickels, dimes, and quarters in there. We are teaching them money while rewarding them, and they love saving up their money to buy things that they want. We have also begun teaching them about saving and tithing with this as well.
I hope this answers your question!