Wednesday, September 5, 2012
(How To) Use a Board to Correct Your Child.
Are you gasping and sputtering? I hope so! I really do! I hope the title of this post grabs your attention because I believe my husband and I have stumbled on the best discipline tool ever! Well, maybe not the best ever but it sure works for our family and we are so excited about it, we just can't wait to share what we have learned and discovered in the hopes that it will be helpful for you too!
In our time as parents of a special needs child, we have tried many things to train and disciple her in a way that is pleasing to the Lord, but these "tried and true" methods that seem to work for so many others, just weren't a good fit for us.
*Spanking - and, of course, I mean in an appropriate way: talking about the offense and then administering a fair and non abusive correction to a very padded "seat of learning". When talking about the offense to my daughter, we found that we were talking "at" her rather than "with her" as she simply could not follow along. Then, when we administered the correction, she looked at us and said "Hey! you hit me!" -- she had no connection between the spanking being a correction. (hence one of the reasons I am very against corporal punishment for children who experience special needs)
*Time out - she was willing to sit, but had no idea why she was sitting. No length of talking drove home the offense or consequence.
*Grounding from an activity or object - My daughter is so flexible, she will just move to the next thing. Maybe someday this will work, but it had no affect in the present day.
soooo.... clearly we had to find something that was tailored specifically for our daughter and her needs.
We had learned previously that our daughter responded well to lists. She also enjoys reading (she is a self-taught reader! I know, I am rolling my eyes right along with you). We also know that our daughter will follow directions IF they are written out in step form. (example: 1. pick up blocks, 2. Put blocks on shelf, 3. close door to cabinet)
So... we began using a white board in the process of disciplining our daughter. (no, I wasn't referring to a 2x4, but gotcha!! =0)
Here is how it works.
When the offense is commited, we very calmly and quietly take our daughter by the hand and quietly say, "Please come with me" we then go to our living room and seat her gently on the couch - usually in the corner to help avoid wiggling and distractions. We then explain to her that she is in a timeout and that she cannot talk or get up until the timer goes off. We then walk to the kitchen and set the timer on the stove or microwave for 6 minutes (our daughter is 6 years old. If your child is 5, set the timer for 5 minutes - kids relate to their age. Also be sure to use a timer that has a sound like a "ding" to mark when the time is over).
We then go back into the living room, pick up our whiteboard, a dry erase marker and an eraser and proceed to sit next to our daughter. If our daughter tries to talk to us, we simply and quietly say "I'm sorry, we cannot talk right now because you are in a time out." If your child tries to engage you again, just quietly ignore them.
Once we are seated, we write on the whiteboard (in view of our daughter who begins to read over our shoulder), "I am in timeout because..." and we proceed to list the reasons: 1. I pulled Tigger the Cat's Fur - My actions were not kind. 2. Daddy asked me to stop and I did not obey, 3. I broke God's rule(s) (and we list the rule(s)).
Then, at the bottom of the board we write. "Next time, I will..." 1. Obey daddy so I don't hurt tigger 2. pet Tigger the cat instead of pulling his hair, 3. Obey God's rule(s)
When the timer dings, we then hand our daughter the white board and have her read aloud what we wrote. When she reads "1. I pulled Tigger the Cat's Fur - My actions were not kind", Dan and I respond appropriately with expression and emotion "Oh no, that must have hurt tigger - owie"
After we read the offenses, our daughter then must apologize to the offended parties. We have her say she is sorry to Tigger the cat for hurting him, To Daddy for not obeying and then she must pray to God and tell him she is sorry for breaking his rule(s).
I need to add here that our daughter has an issue of letting things go. If we put her in a timeout, she will talk about it all day. She will say "I'm in a timeout" and she "hangs on" to the idea of being in trouble. We had to find a way to communicate to her that the issue, once dealt with, was over and done. It was "all done".
so, we came up with this...
After each apology, we hand her the eraser and she gets to erase that line item of offense. (she loves to do this)
When she is all done and all line items are dealt with, we then have her look at the white board and tell us what she sees...
She usually says "it's all gone"!! and we explain that "Yes! Once we say we are sorry, our sin is gone! We get to start all over with a clean board! God does not remember our sin when we say we are sorry!" and she totally relates to this!
We wanted our daughter to know that not only is she disobeying us as her parents but that she is also disobeying God and His word. By showing her that our offenses can be dealt with, she also learns of the wonderful biblical picture of Jesus washing away our sin and God giving us a brand new start!
If she still tries to "hang on" to the timeout, we just remind her that she washed the board clean and it is "all done" - we can even show her if we need to!
The very end of our conversation with Kylie includes lots of hugs and snuggles. We want her to know that she is just as loved after as she was before. Sin CAN separate a family, but once it is dealt with, restoration, bonding and relationship can be enjoyed.
This has worked so well for us! I just can't say enough about it and I praise God for giving us this idea! He really does meet us where we are and satisfies our every need in parenting our children.
Please also note: If your child cannot read, please don't fret. this system is easily implemented with pictures (even stick figures). You can even teach these same lessons using toys (have GI Joe represent daddy and Garfield represent the cat). Even if your child does not read yet, they will still enjoy erasing the line items.
I hope you will let me know if you try out our method! We would love to hear how you creatively alter it to meet your family's needs. I'd also love to hear what methods you have found on your own that really work to teach your children about obedience and following directions.