Are you still struggling with your child’s behaviors? Sometimes, so do I! After implementing consequence and reward jars to improve behaviors, I find myself dealing with the occasional issue. I am NOT telling you the system isn’t working. That couldn’t be further from the truth. The system works surprisingly well, especially when I am mindful of how I’m using them.
Recently, I posted about what I learned about myself after using the system briefly. But, as time goes on, I realize we all need regular reminders about using the whole system effectively. Today though, I want to give you a more in-depth way to get the best results from using a consequence jar. The points I’m sharing with you have come up in the last few months, so I thought it best to continue sharing my experiences. Hopefully, it will help you overcome a struggle before it happens. If not, you can always refer back to see if there was something you missed.
Effective Use of the Consequence Jar
Simply implementing a consequence jar to change your child’s bad behavior isn’t nearly enough. You need to give some thought to every part of the behavior modification system.
1. Decide on and print house rules.
Make a list of house rules. Think of all the expectations you have in your home. A verbal and visual list will help all members of the family to understand what is expected of them. This is immensely helpful in determining when to “request” a pull from the consequence jar. And yes, request is in quotations, because I don’t believe in making requests when a child is out of line. A consequence isn’t an option.
2. Decide on consequences and print slips.
You and your partner should determine appropriate consequences. Anything you have ever threatened or thought about threatening (aside from selling your child to the gypsies) should be printed and cut into strips. From small things like having the child write their name 5 times to larger consequences like losing X-Box for the day, it’s all fair game. Because this is like roulette, your child will learn to think very hard about his or her actions. A simple back-talk could earn him a night free from television.
Make a list of those consequences (even in your head) that are things you can take away. Go ahead and call them your “take away consequences.” These are your fail-safe items when crap really hits the fan. No TV, no x-box, no tablet, no computer … something of value that your child will be really upset to lose for the night (or a week).
Need some consequence slip ideas? When you sign up for my email newsletter, you receive 2 free printables: House Rules and Consequence Jar slips. It can at least get you started.
Just click on this image
3. Discuss Expectations.
Discuss, as a family, the expectations you have of your child. Then, explain that when those expectations aren’t met, they will pull a consequence from the consequence jar. Something about determining their own fate makes them think hard.
4. Follow through.
This might be hard at first, but it’s imperative in any disciplinary situation that you follow through with your threats. When you threaten a consequence and then don’t follow through, your child learns you have no authority.
5. Swift action.
It is vital that you not let bad behavior continue as this elevates your bad mood. Take care of a problem immediately, before your emotions start to take control. While you’re still calm, instruct your child to reach into the consequence jar and pull a random slip.
DO NOT allow the child to argue their point or allow them to think it’s open for negotiation. You lose your power and the consequence jar will not be effective. The key to any disciplinary technique is swift action and follow through. Consistently.
6. Expect resistance.
If there is resistance (and there is likely going to be initially), there are a couple of ways to handle the situation.
You can use a counting method. “If you don’t pull one by the time I get to three, I will pull one for you.” FOLLOW THROUGH!! Or, go ahead and pull one for them.
Either way, a consequence needs to be pulled. And, it needs to be done before you lose your cool.
Is your child refusing to complete the consequence task?
I got lucky with my daughter (or we’re really strict disciplinarians and she knows the limits). Either way, I haven’t had to deal with this situation personally. However, I did have one reader ask what to do if the child refused to complete the task.
This is a power struggle which you need to stay on top of. I thought about what I would do in that situation and believe the best course of action is to immediately decide on a “take away” consequence that you listed in item #2 above. Your child has no control over the situation any longer. And, you can probably expect a tantrum, more crying, or more arguing. That’s okay. Stand your ground and follow through on the takeaway.
Should the child become unruly, send her to her room until she can calm down. And whatever you do, no begging or pleading or you’re giving your child power again.
I am not insisting we’re perfect, but I am telling you that as long as I remember to stay consistent, this system works like a charm. Within the first week, changes in behaviors and moods were noticeable. Yelling has been significantly decreased and my daughter earns her rewards more often than not. And, because nearly every part of this system is customize-able to YOU, I believe it has the potential to work with all parenting styles. The keys are to act swiftly, follow through, and stay consistent.