Before I had children I was an expert at raising them. I knew exactly how to handle tempers and tantrums (not that my perfect children were ever going to have those) but if they did I knew that I would give them a gentle reminder to behave and on we would go skipping and whistling while we worked and played. Fast forward to today when I am the parent of three children and have no idea what the heck I am doing and often feel that if anyone deserves to be sitting in time out it is probably me for inappropriate behavior. You know, I love the Internet and blogs and especially Pinterest for all the ideas/information they provide you with but they also provide you with mommy overload: a bombardment of ideas that only increase a mother's feelings of insanity. Everyone has an idea and an opinion-but how on earth do you decide which is best for you? At one time spanking was the accepted norm, then that was labeled taboo and "time out" became the "best" discipline method. Now I read that rather than time out we should give our kids "time in" for misbehavior. Yelling is possibly worse than spanking. Consequences should be funny rather than harsh. Kids need a calm down jar or a quiet spot to journal their angry feelings and read books until they are ready to play. Point out the good and ignore the bad. Whatever you do don't scar your child (possibly too late for us) or damage their self esteem. It all sounds great and very confusing and I often find myself standing in the bathroom in tears wondering what I am supposed to do and questioning my abilities as a mom. So I am not saying that this is a good idea (and I am sure someone will think I am scarring my children with this) but I am just saying that this is an idea. It is a "3 strikes you're out" chart.
The basic idea is that there are often things that our kids want to do or places they want to go but they aren't immediate (like going to Grandma's to play in the afternoon, or going swimming after lunch or going on the bus with dad in the morning). We tell the girls they must behave if they want to go (or do) but they are 4 and 3 so that goes in one ear and out the other. I do not feel that, with them being so young, it is fair to only allow them one chance to mess up (though there are exceptions when one mess up is all it takes) but I feel like they at least deserve a few tries so my husband and I use the 3 strikes system and this chart is an easy way to keep track (so that dad doesn't come home and say they can when they can't which creates mass meltdowns) and it is a visual reminder for them that we are serious. If you get 3 strikes you miss out-SORRY-end of story. The blue squares are for us to X out and the line at the bottom is where we write the "privilege or activity" (once again so that we can be on the same page-so mom doesn't say no swimming this afternoon and dad doesn't say something like 'no treats at the baseball game in 2 weeks' [aren't dads great at this kinda stuff...NOT!]). I don't use this to catch bad behavior and certainly many things slide (if they really are inconsequential). This helps us to stick to a consequence and it eliminates the repetition of the ever popular parent phrase, "This is your last chance." Hey and you can even take it places with you!!! It's portable. If this is a terrible parenting practice well then add it to the list because I am just like every other mom out there-trying to do MY best to figure out how to be a parent as I go. I am sure it won't be the first time I "scar them for life."