Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Obedience Jar

   My biggest challenge as a parent so far is, without a doubt, toddler discipline. Phew! Glad I got that off my chest!!

   My daughter has inherited my inclination toward the dramatic, has very selective hearing, and finds nothing more amusing than switching to sloooooow motion whenever I need her to obey quickly. Add to that the fact that I am quite the disciplinarian and have a very goal-oriented personality, and you have a wee bit of a time bomb ticking merrily away there! Soooo...these days my bedside table is laden with books on the topic and most of my quiet time each morning is spent desperately clinging to the hem of my Master's robe, begging for wisdom and a soft voice and for His Spirit to rest on my shoulders like a gentle dove when I start to feel the annoyance building up.

   One of the books have proved to be a gem: Lisa Whelchel's Creative Correction. It is a fantastic book crammed with practical ideas for dealing with just about every disciplining issue you may ever encounter with younger children. The chapter called In The Beginning deals specifically with Toddler Discipline, and has had me giggle out loud as I was able to relate to so many of the scenarios! The Toolbox section of that chapter is chock-full of super ideas to creatively correct.

    I've adapted one of her suggestions to encourage Sweetpea to be obedient: I used two honey jars and placed 22 glass pebbles in each. For every time Sweetpea obeys a clear instruction with a merry attitude, she can remove one pebble from the 'disobedient'/frowny face jar, to add it to her 'obedient'/smiley face jar. The idea was that disobedience would work in reverse, but I soon realised that this process would become far too drawn-out to have effect, so we are sticking to only rewarding good behaviour. As soon as the frowny face jar is empty, she will get to choose a special treat: a small sticker album, a mommy-and-me-only trip to the park, or an extra story at bedtime.

    I also like to help her "bind up Truth in her heart" as we go along, and so whenever she obeys, I praise her for not only listening to me, but also for obeying God's command in Ephesians 6:1: "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right."

   At the time of this writing we have 5 pebbles to go - I will keep you posted!


  1. We are also trialling a new method here too. My daughter is earning "tickets" (pieces of coloured paper) with some issues we have been working on. Issues such as not having to be asked several times to do something, packing up after she has finished playing, sharing with her brother etc etc. We are awarding "tickets" when she works really hard at these issues. We have told her that she is expected to listen the first time, pack up etc - it's part of everyday, but, when she is making a really big effort (packs up without being asked, happily shares etc) we give her a ticket. Ten tickets equals a reward - staying up a little later, she gets to pick an activity for the afternoon (park, painting outside, or whatever she is really keen to do), stickers etc. So far, this has been working extremely well for us. Also, if she isn't behaving we take a ticket out of her box.

    I am interested to hear how your pebble jars work.

  2. HI Elise! What a super idea! And ten tickets should be quite doable, so it doesn't take fooooorreeeevvvveeeer for them to earn their little treat! (I think I added too many pebbles to our jars to start with.) Let us know what reward Savvy chooses!

  3. Dear Grietjie
    I want to ask you to play along with 'Free to Ask' on my blog. All the instructions are on my latest posting. You just leave the questions in my comment box.
    Looking forward to hear from you!
    Lots of love

  4. I ordered Creative Correction... I hope it helps... I have a terrible temper, and so I am afraid to smack my son, I don't want to do it out of anger. And he is 13 months and on occasion pretty defiant... so we are hoping this book will help. Thanks for the heads up about it!

    1. Hi Lizanne! It is a great book and one I use very often as a quick reference for when I am stuck with a difficult discipline issue. But is it just a book, so read it, take what resonates with you, and make it your own or alter the ideas to fit in with your family's situation. All of the best in your journey of training up your little guy!


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