Misbehave. Yell. Cry. Spank. Cry.
It was a vicious cycle. Our household felt like constant turmoil when it came to behavior and discipline. It was neither positive for the kids or the parents.
My husband and I have different tolerance levels. He has a very relaxed, laid back, don’t-let-things-bother-me personality. Loads of patience. And he tends to be very lax in discipline. He may warn the boys 10 times before following through on disciplining them.
I, on the other hand, have a very low tolerance level. (I am actually envious of my husband’s personality.) While I know I need to calm down, saying that is much easier than doing so. Little things often bother me… clicking, tapping, twitching. (Yes, it is that bad.) So hearing the boys get rowdy or bickering is irritating to me. I slowly feel my anger thermometer start rising. I get a little hot. Try to ignore it. Ask the boys to stop doing what they’re doing. When it doesn’t stop, I notice I have started grinding my teeth and am still feeling hot. Another warning and a threat of punishment. Still the irritating bit continues. Now I can think of nothing else and I feel like I’m literally going to explode. And I do… by yelling. But I hate yelling at the boys. I can give myself one heck of a headache at times. If the offense continues, so does my yelling, but now I’ve added the “if it doesn’t stop, I will spank you.” During this time, the boys are probably either crying or ignoring me. Which frustrates me even more. Hence the cycle… misbehave, yell, cry, spank, cry.
Then came my husband’s comment, “I’ve never heard a mother threaten to spank her kids as much as you do.” Sadly, it was true. I was using the threat of being spanked as my discipline tactic. I knew the boys disliked them more than time outs and it seemed more effective. So it became habit. And truthfully, even I disliked it. Who actually wants to spank their precious child?
It hurt my core to hear my husband say that. Something had to give. We were all unhappy.
So one night while getting my hair cut, my stylist and I were talking about potty training and she mentioned she had used a jar of marbles to reward her son for using the bathroom. Every time he had an accident, he lost a marble. If he didn’t lose too many marbles at the end of the week, there was a reward awaiting him. Apparently he had responded so well to the reward jars that she continued to use them to correct bad behavior. She let him decorate his jars with stickers, then labeled one “Good” and the other “Naughty”. (She explained that she didn’t want her son thinking he was “bad”, but that he was doing naughty things) They made a list of “naughty” behavior and each time he did one of those items, he would lose a marble. At the end of the week, if he had more marbles in his good jar, he would be rewarded with a treat or a small item.
What a genius idea! Had I not been getting a haircut, I would’ve probably jumped up and hugged her. This is what we needed! Or should I say, this is what I needed. I wanted and needed the jars to help me keep my cool probably more so than the boys needed them to learn good/bad behavior. My goal in this new discipline technique was to create a calmer, more loving environment for the boys. While we still have our moments, I would say the jars have been a very effective tool when used consistently.
In the next couple Discipline posts, I will share with you:
- How to make your Discipline Jars
- How the jars have affected our home’s atmosphere
- What we’re working on now
For more, check out Discipline Jars — Part 2: How to make them