Friday, 19 September 2014
I have been using this system to manage my children's behaviour for a few years now and I wanted to share it with you, because I have found it to be the only thing that worked with them! Now, i'm not claiming to be an expert, far from it. I'm just so pleased to have discovered a method that really does take some of the stress out of parenting for us.
Before using this I was shouting regularly and either struggling to think of suitable threats on the spot when my kids wouldn't do as I asked, or shouting out something completely inappropriate that I couldn't stick to. I have been that fraught mum at a restaurant who threatens her kids by saying "I will take you home if you don't stop doing X, Y or Z!" and then being completely unable to follow through because we've just ordered our food.
Since starting to use this system I no longer have to think of threats (or rewards) off the cuff! I simply threaten to put the kids "down a colour" or tell them they will "go on orange" and usually it works!
My children are currently aged 5 and a half and almost 4. We have been using this system for the last two years.
I started it after posting on an online forum about how I was at my wits end with the kids not doing as I asked, never listening and generally being nightmares. A woman on there - who is a teacher - told me that she used a traffic lights system in class and I thought what the heck - worth a try! I didn't get any further details from her, I figured classrooms will be different to home settings and I wanted to do what felt right to me. Here's what I came up with.
Sadly the only photo I have of my "old" system is when they were both on red. I posted this to my Instagram with the caption, "Today has not been such a good day!" The kids had gone to bed by that point and I was glad for the peace. Ha ha!
So as you can see my old system was just paper plates! I stuck coloured paper in red, orange and green to six paper plates - two of each colour as I have two children. Then I stuck their names on each one so that we could tell who was on what colour.
Korben had three plates - red, orange and green.
Lyric had three plates - red, orange and green.
I just used blu-tak to stick them to the wall.
We used the system this way for a good year or more until I decided to change it a little, make new cards for the colours and add in something new, but I'll tell you more about that later. First I'll explain the principals of the rewards and punishments system.
First, decide what happens on each colour
We thought about what our kids do for a treat that we wouldn't feel bad about withholding from them. We also thought about what the kids feel privileged doing. This lead to us using the following things for our colours, but you might decide to use different things. I'll talk about each kid being on a different colour next.
Each day begins with them on green. Start on a good note!
When they're on green they are allowed to choose things for themselves - which TV shows to watch, what to have for a snack, where to go today etc. All within reason from choices outlined by us of course.
They are also allowed to drink juice instead of just milk or water and watch netflix, play on the iPad or computer etc.
If the kids "go on orange" they are no longer allowed to choose things for themself. Either the child on the "better" colour or I will decide on all the fun things for them. I don't take this to extremes, I just limit choice on TV, snacks, activities etc. More about children on "better" colours next.
So they cannot choose which program they watch on TV, nor are they allowed to watch Netflix (since it's all about choosing) or play on the iPad or computer. They are also only allowed to have water or milk to drink and not juice. We decided that the kids love these things so will miss them, but we don't feel remotely bad about taking them away when they misbehave.
If they fuss about this decision or about not being able to choose I just threaten to put them down to red and that usually stops that.
Red is very similar to orange, but with the addition that kids still on red at bedtime will go to bed early and without a story.
If both children are on red the TV stays off for the duration as opposed to being on but not being allowed to choose when on orange.
But what if I have more than one child and they are on different colours?
This really helps it to work, I find. Particularly with the choosing thing.
If Lyric is on green and Korben is on orange then Lyric gets to choose the activities, TV programs etc. Korben HATES watching Powerpuff Girls, so he will usually behave if only to avoid being forced to watch that more than once.
It becomes more difficult when they are both on green as they are both entitled to choose. I simply get them to take turns at choosing in this case.
If both are on orange then I just choose everything.
If both are on red I don't let them watch TV at all, never mind choosing anything. This is rare though!
You might have different consequences that you use or different ways of handling children being on different colours. I'd love it if you let me know about them!
Rewarding good behaviour
This system isn't just about threats and punishment, it also enables rewards for good behaviour. I don't like to keep the kids on orange or especially red if I can help it and use the promise of being put "up a colour" to encourage them to behave well, or to help me with tidying up etc.
After a while using this traffic light system for managing their behaviour I realised that if they stayed on green all day there was no where to go after that - no reward for being good. I also needed to be able to give them a reward for their good behaviour if they were already on green.
So I added silver and gold.
There are no additional privileges with being on silver or gold. Everything is pretty much as it is when they are on green. However, if one child is on gold and the other on silver or green, the child on gold is the one who gets to choose. Or if one is on silver and one on green the child on silver gets to choose. You get the drift?
At the end of the day the kids who are on silver or gold get to take a happy coin and put it in their own jar. The coins are saved up in their jars and exchanged for treats - usually a toy in our case. I just use my own judgement as to how many coins equal a toy, but when they're older (and more savvy!) this might have to change!
How I Made The New System
Very simply I used coloured card with their name stuck on - similar to the plates. I just laminated everything to keep it nicer and punched a hole through at the top to hang on a hook, rather than using blu-tak. Now that i'd established the system worked i was happy to invest a little time in making a more durable set of colours to use.
The hooks I used are the Command hooks I LOVE. I've used these things all over the house, because they attach firmly to your wall (or ceiling, cupboard door etc.) and when it's time to take them off, they come off easily and leave no marks! Perfect for someone who changes their mind as often as I do! Here's a link to the Command Brand Website so you can see what other goodies they have. There's an awesome Inspiration Section, so check that out too!
I used the hook on the left in this photo as the little metal hook fits perfectly through a hole punched with a standard paper hole punch.
Then I either store the colours that aren't being used in a little folder next to the happy coin jars, or I simply hang them all behind on the hook itself. I find it works better to take them all off except the one being used and file them, but sometimes i'm lazy, lol!
These are displayed in the kitchen right where everyone can see, so it's a reminder.
Consistency is key
If you're a parent you will know that consistency is key. There have been times when i've not been so "on the ball" with this and honestly, that's when the kids start to behave poorly again. Usually if they're playing up and I stop and think about it, I realise it's because i've not been using this system. When I use it, it WORKS.
Yeah, I still shout sometimes, because lets face it, i'm human and I get grumpy. However, instead of standing in the playground frantically thinking of some random threat to get Korben to come back to me instead of running away... I just shout, "IF YOU DON'T COME BACK HERE I WILL PUT YOU ON ORANGE....! ONE....! TWO....!"
Of course, I am aware that not everyone will agree on this way of doing things. I know that some parents don't like to use threats, but really for me at least - threats and bribes are the best things in my arsenal. I just have to make sure I have the right threat or bribe to hand and this gives me that without having to think about it.
And here's what it looks like right now. Today has been a good day so far, but i'm about to go to the supermarket with Korben - lets hope he is on silver when I get back!! ;o)
Does my explanation make sense? Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments and I will answer you the best I can.
Do you use anything similar in your home? How does yours work? Is it similar or different to mine? Or do you do something completely different? Let me know in the comments below and link me if you blogged about it!
This post has been shared at: Skip The Housework, 3 Little Greenwoods, Lady Behind The Curtain, Be Different, Act Normal, Tatertots & Jello, The Best Blog Recipies, Culinary Flavours, Sincerely, Paula, Bacon Time With The Hungry Hypo,
Posted by Sarah Nelson at 05:21
Thursday, 4 September 2014
Our baby girl had an operation on her nose today. She was VERY brave and bounced back from it really well. I'm currently having problems getting her to sit still so that she doesn't bash it!!
In July she broke her nose while playing on a climbing frame at the park. She was sat on a bar and intended to fall and hang backwards, but she fell forwards instead - right onto another bar underneath!
She was taken to A&E and they said to expect a call with a referral to have it looked at by someone at the hospital.
Eventually the swelling and black eyes went away and we could see that she was left with a bump to the right of her nose, right where her glasses sit. After waiting a month I called the hospital to chase her referral and lo and behold they'd never received one. The lady on the phone gasped and said she should have been seen within ten days so now she'll have to have surgery! Well, obviously we had no idea this was the case otherwise we would have chased it up sooner.
Once they heard about her they got us in to see a doctor quickly and he said he could try to push the bone back into place under anaesthetic. We decided to try it since the bump was right where her glasses sit and she did still complain that it hurt to press on it.
The worst part of the whole thing for her was the cannula in her hand where they put the injection to put her to sleep. She was sat on my knee with her arm around the back of me and kept crying out as they were putting the needle in. Once they said she would get sleepy soon it happened so fast! One minute she was crying because the cannula hurt, the next second she gave a kind of confused half cry, then she was zonked and snoring! She was mega heavy and it took a few people to lift her onto the bed! Mr Teddy stayed with her the whole time.
Once she had woken up and come back to the ward she quickly came around, even more so when they took the pesky cannula out of her hand. She was really hungry and devoured four bourbon biscuits and drank some water.
I've always known we are lucky with our children's health, but as we sat in the waiting room with other more poorly children at the hospital, and as we answered no to every single question about Lyric's possible meds, allergies, conditions etc. I sent up a silent thanks to the randomness of the universe that in this thing we are fortunate for now. We are so, so lucky.
Posted by Sarah Nelson at 08:34
Tuesday, 2 September 2014
Monday, 1 September 2014
Hi Readers! I hope you have all been well? I have been busy so i've not been blogging. Truth be told this last year has been pretty stressful.
My Dad was in and out of hospital a lot and ended up having a few heart attacks, kidney failure with a PD fitted to his tummy so he could do fluid dialysis, one leg amputated, then his second leg amputated. It was a long, long heartbreaking and tough journey for all of the family and he actually passed away four weeks ago.
We've also been having trouble with our rental property, which I won't go into here, but that has been quite stressful too.
I've been getting myself into a tizzy with photography "jobs" I'd taken on before things got bad with Dad. I'm behind with editing for those, but thankfully the people who are waiting are being very understanding. Next week I am going to try to get all of my editing done and then I won't be doing any more photography for anyone else. I started my photography because I wanted to take nice photos of my children. People started asking me to take photos for them and for a time I enjoyed it. I have done a few weddings and although I love to do them, they are very time consuming and nerve-wracking. For a time I toyed with the idea of training to become a professional photographer, but after considering it I have decided not to. I am not yet good enough, but don't have to time to invest in getting better. I also don't want to work every weekend and the pressures of running my own business would do me in I'm sure. In fact, with the jobs outstanding I've had hanging over me I've not taken any proper photos of my children at all. There's been a full year where i've not captured a single moment as I intended (except for with my phone), because I knew I couldn't edit my own photos when I have people waiting for theirs. And that's awful to me, because my children were the whole reason I wanted to get good at taking photos in the first place! So no more photography unless it's for me.
This week we have added stress of Lyric being taken in for a minor operation to straighten her broken nose. She goes in on Thursday and I know it's only little, and she won't be under anaesthetic for long, but I am still worried. She starts back at school tomorrow and then will be off for two days this week!!
So that's where I am. Life is always busy, but this last couple of years, especially this last year have been complicated to say the least. My current aim is to take on nothing new. I need to allow the dust to settle, clear off all of my current outstanding jobs and stresses and just... be. Concentrate on my little family and me for a while.
Posted by Sarah Nelson at 07:51
Friday, 3 January 2014
We had a family trip to the cinema today and we went to see Frozen. I must say I think the kids were far more excited about the popcorn and sweets we got them than the actual movie itself. Lyric has been to the cinema three times now and is fine, but this was Korben's second time and Scott had to take him out around two thirds of the way through. Once all the popcorn and sweets were gone he was bored, but to be fair I don't think the film was entirely his cup of tea.
We're still on spot watch for Korben, but so far nothing. Google said fourteen days from infection to feeling ill so by that schedule he should be due to get spots by Tuesday/Wednesday. It was two weeks exactly when Lyric got it from her friend at school, so it's going to be right I reckon. I read 90% of kids exposed will get it if they've not had it before.
We umm'ed and ah'ed about going to the cinema and sending Korben to nursery, but in the end we opted to just go with it. The all wise google says you're contagious only for a day or two before the spots and while they are blistering, so he won't be contagious til after the weekend and there's no nursery then for him anyway. We were all sick of being cooped up inside and probably have another few weeks of that ahead when he does get it!!
So anyway we escaped for a while and it was nice! They were late to bed tonight though - after 8.15pm! Kind if looking forward to school bringing some routine back next week!
Posted by Sarah Nelson at 14:21
Tuesday, 31 December 2013
This is the end
This is the end
My only friend, the end.
Actually you weren't that beautiful Big Unit and you're certainly not my only friend. Cause that would be remarkably sad of me, and i'm sure there will me a medical name for people who personify and feel affectionate towards furniture.
Although you were an amazing gift of storage, you were an imposing, dark hulk. The Ikea Besta TV and Storage Unit overshadowing our living room with your large squareness and never looking tidy for longer than half a minute. You became the ultimate catch all for clutter, your shelves being so far out of the reach of children. It was too easy to place things atop your tallness rather than seek out proper, neat placement of items.
So, we began to take it apart. See what we did after the jump!
Each time we took a section away we had to wait until that piece was in it's new location AND find a temporary home for all the mountains of stuff that was contained therein before we could take the next section away...
But we persisted until there was nought but the little TV section in the middle left...
Aw, isn't it cute! This is the only section we got rid of - we just gave it away. The rest of the sections were used in other parts of the house. After all, good storage is as vital as breathing! Well, it is in our house where clutter seems to breed of it's own accord.
But look! When i painted the living room i didn't move the Big Unit, i simply painted around it. And when we took out the fireplace Scott just screwed a big piece of plywood across the hole. In fact, part of the reason why the Big Unit was so big was because we needed a unit that would cover that fireplace hole so we didn't have to sort it out properly.
Alas, these things have to be dealt with eventually so we got a professional in to plaster it up for us.
Yes, that is a patch of mismatched carpet where the hearth used to be, but thankfully the new unit covers that up. Also, Scott patched in the skirting board.
I have an actual real office space now with an actual DESK and everything.
So my beautiful friend the Big Unit is no more. Former office in a cupboard, ironing pile storage, crafting stash holder and clutter catch all. Gone. And in it's place...
Why it's an Ikea Besta TV and Storage Unit of course!!
I had this completely wasted space right at the end of the high kitchen units. I have always thought i could do with doing something with that area, but never knew what exactly. The main thing was i didn't want to screw anything into the unit itself to spoil it, so many of my ideas fell flat.
But, i discovered something amazing while looking on Amazon. See what it was after the jump...
But, i discovered something amazing while looking on Amazon. See what it was after the jump...
Then while i was browsing Amazon i came across this stuff - Adhesive Chalkboard Wall Sticker. Ah-mazing! It's blackboard sticker! And it doesn't leave a mark when you take it off. Genius!
I already had a chalk board that i used for menu planning, but it was just stuck on a shelf and i was irritated with having to keep taking it down and putting it back and stuff.
Did i post about menu planning on this blog or was it my other one??? See, this is why i just need ONE blog. I am far too easily confused.
Anyhoo, i forgot to take a decent "before" photo, but here's one from a while ago where you can just about see the edge of the unit on the left.
And this is what i did with it.
The clipboards were also from Amazon here: A4 Brown Clipboards, and they were a bargain at £1.69 each when i got them. I mainly put those there to get rid of the paper clutter from our cooker hood. Because the cooker hood is the only visible magnetic surface in the kitchen it was getting overloaded in invitations, Lyric's school menu, leaflets etc. I guessed it was a bit of a fire hazard too with it being directly above the hob...
I used the super-awesome Command Hooks also from Amazon (no i am not an affiliate, but maybe i should be, lol!) They stick to surfaces without leaving a mark when you want to take them down. I use the little clear ones for all my xmas decorating and these larger ones can hold up to 1.3kg apparently!
Don't mind the bit of graffitti on there, it's just what HAS to be done to christen every writing surface. It sat there as a place holder until i did this week's menu plan.
And the great thing is that because the double doors to the living room are glass we don't have to worry about not being able to see what is there.
Nope, there is no Friday meals planned! I got bored and figured i'll have to go shopping again for LooLoo's birthday shizzle, so i might as well save me the brain effort of planning Friday as well.
Hope you all have a fabulous New Years Eve! I will by staying in with my Chicken Pox riddled kiddos, getting grumpy when the fireworks wake me up at midnight. Pretty similar to the last three New Years then! Ha ha! :)
Posted by Sarah Nelson at 01:01