Saturday, September 29, 2012


His good consequences chart.
As a parent I believe that I would be remiss if I did not teach Rowan that there are consequences for his actions- either good or bad. I believe that this idea applies to the magickal and mundane. We are responsible for our words and actions- indeed, it is one of the few things that we can ever control.

So how to teach this huge concept to a toddler? We have consequences for his words and actions. "Bad decisions" lead to logical consequences. For example, failure to pick up his toys means the toys go away for a while. Breaking a toy does not get an automatic replacement. And sometimes, if you tease the parrot and try and take away her mango, she will bite you. We allow natural consequences to happen- and give Rowan play-by-plays as he works through his life scenarios: "You know, if you take that toy outside to play with your friends, you need to be willing to share it." or "OK, you don't have to finish your sandwich, but I am not giving you a snack in an hour. I am giving you the rest of your sandwich." (Sneaky kid started scamming for "better" food (mostly sweets) 30 minutes or so after lunch!) "Rowan, the parrot is growling at you. Keep it up and she will bite you."

When something happens that deserves a consequence but there is not obvious consequence (like not listening to mama or hitting), he gets a time out. He sits on the naughty step for a couple minutes. When he is calm, I ask, "Why are you in a time out?" He needs to be able to think back and tell me. If after several attempts he doesn't get the right answer, I tell him. Then I ask if he will do it again. He must promise to correct the anti-social or dangerous behavior before he is let up. While not listening to mama is annoying, I don't correct him with a time out for this merely for my convenience and to get obedience. I am teaching him that there are times that what mama says must be followed right away, no arguments. What if there was a fire? Or he ran into the street? I need him to stop and listen to me the first time. So I correct him now for not listening to me in less dangerous situations, in preparation for those possibilities.

His chill out jar. He watches the sparkles
float when he's in a time out.
We also want him to know that good decisions bring rewards too. So we started a chart. It's just a piece of paper taped to the wall that says "Rowan makes good decisions". Whenever he does something good, whether it was requested of him or initiated by him (this is not simply about obedience and compliance), he gets a sticker. We have a pile of stickers and he gets to choose which one, and then he puts it on his chart. When his chart is filled, he gets to pick "something special". This could be an outing, a toy, a sweet. It is up to him. He is very excited about both the stickers and the something special. He talks a lot about what might be a good decision, in the hopes of scoring more stickers. Smart one- that Rowan.

"Hey mommy, is this a good decision?" he will ask as he puts his cup in the sink. Yes, Rowan. Cleaning up after yourself is awesome. Woodpecker sticker for you! "Daddy, I make good decisions!" he proclaims as he walks upstairs with no fuss so we can put him to bed. Ooh, kid- that was a good one. scratch and sniff lemonade sticker for you!

Don't get me wrong- he IS a toddler. Which means he has temper tantrums, is fickle and bossy, and sometimes doesn't want to share. But I like to think that these lessons are starting an inner dialogue within him- so that the thinks before he acts.

Only time will tell of course. But I am excited to watch him grow.


  1. love this post! am now in the process of creating a "good decisions" chart for my 2 boys (6 & 3). While not a homeschooling parent (I'm afraid I do not have the patience...yet!) I love the principles behind it. Loving your blog. Thank you!!

  2. Thanks so much for this! I need a gentle way to provide structure for my toddler. This helps me get started!



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