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Routines (Breakdown after "Take Time for Training")


Many of the Positive Discipline Tool Cards go well together. Following is the continuation of Katies story that started with success in following the Take Time for Training tool card.

After so much success Sunday implementing a "cleaning day workshop" as part of the Take Time for Training tool card, and the following two days when we created the bedtime routine, we experienced a complete breakdown. Monday we discussed the routine and took pictures of the children doing their tasks. Yesterday we followed the routine chart with no problems. The routine goes like this: "When Mommy says, It's time for bed.

  1. We clean up our room.
  2. We shower and brush our teeth.
  3. We pick out our clothes for tomorrow
  4. We read together.
  5. We turn out the light...and say goodnight.

Tonight was an absolute breakdown. I don't know if this was testing or my inability to stick to Positive Discipline after years of rewards and punishment. I said, "It's time for bed. What is the first thing we need to do to get ready?" The first thing my 6-year-old did was fall on the floor. I said, "Let's look at the chart. What is Sarah (my two-year-old) doing in this picture (cleaning the room)?" Sarah then followed her sister's example and sat on the floor. I tried making it into a game. I tried holding Sarah's hand and kindly yet firmly picking up her belongings with her (after one item it was back on the floor), I tried asking questions like, "Where does Scooby Doo sleep?" I asked for help, "I need your help picking up these clothes."

After about 10 minutes of using strategy after strategy (including counting in my mind to calm myself down), Willow (the 6-year old) asked, "What are you going to do if I don't pick up anything?" I know she was looking for the answer, "You'll get a spanking," or "If you do pick it up, you will get a reward."

I am not sure I replied appropriately. I said, "It is your decision not to take care of your possessions, but if we don't get through the first item in our routine, then we can't get to anything else." In the end she sat there until lights out time. I put both of them in bed in their clothes. (They had a shower the night before so I wasn't worried about them being filthy.) Willow cried for about 30 minutes about wanting to read a story. I felt so awful about the whole thing. Even though I did not resort to spanking or reward giving, I know there could have been a better way to handle it.

Please help! It is hard to change what you have been doing for so long.

Comments from Jane:

Katie, you are doing great. And I mean that. It is normal for kids to test to see if you really mean it. And, you are not being mean to mean it. :-) If you say it, mean it, and if you mean it, follow-through. That is exactly what you did. Another tool we teach in Positive Discipline is, "As soon as _______, then _____." You did this too.

Remember that change is not easy—even when it is healthy. It causes confusion. Confusion is a good thing because when kids are confused about their old behaviors not working they are ready to go shopping for new behaviors.

Let your children have their feelings as they adjust to these changes. They wouldn't be normal, clever children if the didn't test you and try to get you to do what they are used to. Remain kind and firm. I know this can be difficult, but when you realize how much good you are doing, it might be easier.

The only thing I might do differently from what you describe is to leave the room at the point of their first resistance and say, "I'll be in my bedroom. Come find me when you are ready to follow your routine chart." However, that might not be as effective as what you did. I'm cheering. Keep it up. :-)

PS. One thing I need to ask: did you create the routine chart or did they? And did they each have their own routine chart with their own photos of them doing each task. Kids are usually more enthusiastic about a routine chart if they have been actively involved in creating it.

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