Recently, I was talking with a Mama friend of mine. She's sweet, she's funny and she's as neurotic as I am; we get along beautifully. We were discussing discipline and the frustrating flurry of time outs we both seem to have been doling out lately. (Her little boy, H, is almost exactly the same age as my little one.)
Unsure of what to do, but knowing that the status quo wasn't working for her, she did what any good Mama would do: she improvised. She got out a posterboard and a set of Crayola washable markers and proceeded to lay down the law.
She and H pow-wowed. They sat down at the table, markers in hand, and began brainstorming all the rules of the house, together. H, incredibly, was enthusiastic. Eager to display his knowledge, he was tossing out gems like "Always listen to Mommy!" and "No hitting the baby!" and "No screaming out demands like a pre-K drill sergeant!" (OK, that last one is mine, not his.)
In a moment of momspiration, my friend had found a way not only to clearly communicate her expectations to her son, but to make the experience a fun one. By including him in the rule-making process and by allowing H to show off what he already knows, she already set up a positive environment that positioned her to praise him every time he suggested ideas for good behavior. Best of all, he's only had 2 time outs in the week since they wrote our their rules.
She's a flipping genius.
So, I'm stealing her idea. Today, the little one and I are going to sit down with markers and a big sheet of white paper. We'll talk about the kind of behavior I expect and that she is capable of exhibiting. We'll set out our guidelines for peaceful interaction. We'll do it together.
And we're going to get started just as soon as she's done with her time out.