Order in the Chaos--When Rules are Broken

7:39 PMHeather

Okay, before I dive in (and I know at least ONE person said she is waiting with baited breath for this post!)...I just felt the need to say this. I reread yesterday's post, and thought I should clarify something. Yes, we are using a discipline system originally created for youth at risk--but my children do not fall into that category--at least at this point! It's just something that we came across that has a lot of merit for any child and it made sense to us.

And, so, now that I've clarified that my darlings are not one step away from a juvenile detention facility, let's get to it! I don't abide by the "rules were made to be broken" mentality, but the truth is, we are all born with a sin nature. It happens. Now that you have this nice little list--what do you do when your sweethearts test the limits? Here's how the Family Rules system works. Breaking a rule is a bad habit. Some rules might even consistently be broken by one of your offspring. This is a pattern of bad habits. We want to train our children at the root of the problem, and that is replacing their bad habits with good habits.

So, drum roll...we have Good Habit Cards. And, just what are Good Habit Cards? Mom and Dad, sit and consider 45 good habits you want to instill in your children--or 45 chores and tasks you want your children to learn. When we wrote up our list, we thought of good habits that were age appropriate, and thus, we made sure each good habit could be accomplished by our kids within about 5-10 minutes. We are now right on the cusp of reworking our good habits so they are more complex and age appropriate. As the children continue to grow up, this is where the system grows with them. We will undoubtedly continually change up these good habits to reflect their ages.

The majority of these 45 good habits are chores and tasks that are required around the house. They are things like cleaning the kitchen counters, sweeping off the back porch, vacuuming the entry way, cleaning out their in-boxes, and doing a siblings daily chore. [Chores--a teaser for tomorrow's post!] But, we also have habits in there such as writing a letter to their great-grandmothers. Along with these 45 good habits, we have 5 "GRACE" cards. When these are pulled, we explain about how God's mercies are new for each day, and child gets a grace-filled pass. There are also 5 "Wild" cards. If one of these cards are pulled, then the child gets to choose a parent to spend 20-30 minutes doing something of their choosing.

We typed up our list of good habits first so that we could always go back and revise from that list. Then, we took index cards to create our good habit, GRACE and wild cards. These 55 index cards are in a plastic card holder that I bought at an office supply store. The card holder slides into my purse easily for when we are out and about, or when we travel. When a family rule is broken in the middle of a store or restaurant, I can tell the children they will pull a card--or cards, depending on their offense.

SO, how do Good Habit Cards work? Allow me to explain in a list. I love me a good list.

1. Look at your list of rules. Determine how many cards will be pulled for each rule when it is broken.

2. When a child breaks a rule, you can go to your Rules list and read with them the rule that was broken and the corresponding Scripture, if applicable. Then, look to see how many cards must be pulled.

3. When a child pulls a card, they must do one of two things. They can choose to go sit on their bed for a time-out that lasts as long as the child determines (within reason, folks, if you have a very stubborn child). Then, they can come complete their card. Or, they do their card immediately.

4. What if you are rushing out the door or the child is on the way to bed? Of course, real life happens. Sometimes cards are pulled at really inopportune times. So, on our Family Rules foam board, we have clothes pins with each child's name. If we are on our way to school or it's just before bed, the cards go on the child's clip (clothes pin). They are then expected to complete their card when they get home from school or the next morning.

5. What if your child isn't happy about their card and they react poorly? (AKA--they fuss and yes, maybe even growl). Yep, they pull another card. In our house, the record is 8 cards at once for an ongoing attitude. Not a record I'm proud of, bloggy friends--that was quite a morning.

6. Oh--and when the card is completed, the child calls for me to check their task before the card gets put away. And, yes, if the task was not done thoroughly, the card isn't put away until the job is done right.

The beauty of this system for me is that it takes the emotions out of disciplining. I don't even have to think about it. There is just a set consequence for broken rules. And, even better--the consequence is helping my children learn good habits and life skills AND my house gets cleaned. My feathers don't get ruffled and the children know what to expect. I will let you in on a little secret, just between us. Sometimes, I go look in the card holder and I rearrange the cards according to the order of what I need accomplished. If I just vacuumed, I slip that card toward the back. SHHH!! Don't tell the kids.

INTENTIONAL challenge: Honestly, there are so many things about my children getting older that I enjoy! But disciplining is not one of them. It gets more complex as they age, yet so crucial. Having this card system really has helped take the guess work out of it for us, keeps us from reacting emotionally, and helps train my kids in so many ways. I love that it's flexible and I can continually grow the system with the kids. I think as a mom, I just feel I need to keep my tool box full. This is probably why Lisa Whelchel's book Creative Correction sits in my bedside table. I love that this card system allows me to stay gentle and calm so that I can actually train and respond rather than react. When I get sloppy with it (the last month), and then decide I need to get back on it (last week), it doesn't take long to see good results and more peace in our home (this week). Give it a try for yourself! Oh, and while you are brainstorming your good habit list, please let us know any great ideas for good habit cards by commenting below. After all, I like to craft-lift, I "borrowed" this system from a trained professional, and I am not above stealing any good idea.

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