by Pamela Laney
One of my LEAST favorite duties as a parent was the constant “reminding” that happened every day:
- Brush your teeth.
- Don’t forget your backpack.
- Did you do you take out the trash yet?
- You have soccer practice today.
- Do your homework!
This constant flow of “helpful prompts” made me feel like a nag, made my son feel defeated, and left both of us exhausted.
And then I took a Positive Discipline Parenting Class.
A Parenting Tool that Really Works
First of all, everything I learned through Positive Discipline has been a game-changer in terms of how my family relates to each other. Positive Discipline helped my whole family become closer because, along with the core of respectful, kind AND firm parenting, it’s based on cooperative problem solving, so every member feels empowered and part of a team.
The Positive Discipline tool that most helped me cut out the nagging was Routine Charts. In this video from the Positive Discipline Online Class, Mary Nelsen Tamborski and Dr. Jane Nelsen explain how the Routine Chart works.
As you just saw in the video, a Routine Chart is a very simple concept—basically it’s a To-Do List for kids that cuts out the nagging and minimizes morning and/or evening hassles. The key components to building a successful Routine Chart are these:
- Parents and children build the Routine Chart together. Involving children in the creation of their routine chart increases their sense of belonging and significance; reduces power struggles by giving them more power over their lives; and increases their willingness to follow what they help create.
- The information is presented in a way that is accessible to the child: Young kids who can’t read can use photos or drawings, older kids can personalize it in their own way. Place the chart where the child can easily see it.
- Do not associate the completion of tasks on the Routine Chart with Rewards. Rewards take away from the inner feeling of capability and changes the focus to the reward.
Routine Charts Mature with Your Child
What’s amazing about this parenting tool is that the Routine Chart can grow along with your child. In the video, Mary showed you how she took photos of her young son Greyson going through the night time routine and fastened them all together with ribbon and staples. In this article a mother shows you how she used a blank butcher paper and let her daughter draw all the steps in their night-time routine: Routine Charts in China.
My son is 10-years-old going on 30, so he thinks the photos and drawings are kind of “baby-ish”, but he still needs a routine chart to help him organize his busy afternoons. Instead, we just use a simple list written on a white board in his room. The top slots are for the regular daily tasks that need to be done, like taking out the trash, doing homework, and practicing piano. Underneath there are blank slots where he can add the items that change depending on the day, like if he has basketball practice or has a special school project he needs to work on. Having this list up in his room to refer back to keeps him on track, and keeps me off his back!
The Positive Discipline Online Class Workbook recommends making a new chart when your child tires of the current one. This might happen often, but that’s okay! This will keep things fresh and fun. I’ve seen variations of the Routine Chart done with post-its that get moved from one column to the next. I’ve heard of families cutting out pictures from a magazine or printing them from the computer. You can use pre-printed lists that are bought from the store. The possibilities are as limitless as your child’s imagination.
Routine Charts Help Build Time Management Skills and Other Life Skills
Now that my son is getting older, I focus less on the order that tasks need to be done. I doubt my son would appreciate me hanging around his college dorm room giving him a play-by-play of what he needs to do every day. In light of this, I figure I need to start letting my son manage his own time before then.
In the beginning I struggled with not nagging my son about the items on his Routine Chart, but holding my tongue has really paid off. Now he feels independent and in charge of his afternoons. He’ll fill in extra tasks on his chart just for the satisfaction of checking it off his list. The transformation has been quite extraordinary. No more bribes of getting x for doing y! Along with the important life skill of time management, the Routine Chart is teaching my son accountability, initiative, and that accomplishing something is its own reward.
Grown-Ups Use Routine Charts, Too
Grown-ups use their own versions of Routine charts in the way of day-planners and computer/smart phone calendars. When you think of it that way, isn’t a Routine Chart just the natural first step towards an organized life? Or, at the very least, a less disorganized one?
In my case, Routine Charts were the key to a life with a whole lot less nagging. And that was something I was very happy to cut out of the family routine!
(If you are interested in the full Positive Discipline Online Class. 5 Solid Hours of video instruction by Dr. Jane Nelsen and Mary Nelsen Tamborski, plus downloads of the workbook and the best-selling Positive Discipline book. Click Here to take a tour of the Positive Discipline Online Class.)