Everyday when my first grader comes home from school, she proudly announces that she didn’t get her rocket flipped. Good news right? I guess, although it took me a while to figure out what on earth she was talking about.
You see, her teacher has a great discipline plan that I have half a mind to implement in my own house. All the kids in the class have a rocket with their name on it. Their rockets start the day pointing up to the sky, like all good rockets should. When a child misbehaves they get a warning and their rocket gets flipped upside down facing the ground. That’s their signal that the next time they misbehave there is going to be a consequence.
What are the consequences? They’re fairly straightforward and displayed below the rockets for everyone to see. A few minutes of silent lunch. A few minutes without recess. And then other more significant consequences (letter home, visit to principal) for continued misbehavior. If a child keeps it up, their rocket goes crashing to the ground.
It’s a common sense method where children get a warning for misbehaving and then know exactly what to expect if they keep it up. You know what? It can work at home as well as it can at school. Your child doesn’t come to the table when asked? Give them a warning and flip their rocket. They still don’t come when asked a second time? Then they have to go to bed 10 minutes early.
One of the problems I have as a parent is staying consistent with my handling of my children’s behavior. My kids can misbehave one day and get one consequence and do the exact same thing the next day with a totally different result. Sometimes when they act out they get a warning, other times they get an immediate punishment, sometimes they’re ignored, and then there’s the all too famous “1…2…3…” Talk about confusing! Surely I’m not the only one who struggles with this type of inconsistency. Come on, admit it!
The rocket flipping approach can help keep you in check as a parent as much as it can help your kiddos improve their behavior. Just follow these steps and you’ll be on your way:
- Pick your object and your consequences. For the object you can use a rocket, a stoplight, or whatever fits your child’s personality. Get creative. Keep your consequences short and simple. Ten minutes early bedtime, television off for ten minutes, computer time cut short. Have them be meaningful, but not too complicated to enforce.
- Display. Put the rocket (or other object) and the written consequences somewhere your child can see. The refrigerator or a small bulletin board in the kitchen are perfect spots for most kids. They can even help you decorate the display area if you want.
- Explain. Tell your child that when they misbehave they will be given a warning and their rocket will be flipped (or stoplight turned to yellow). Then if they keep it up they will be given one of the written consequences. Plus their rocket will crash, or their stoplight will turn to red!
- Follow through. Sometimes our children misbehave and we should ignore them. That’s okay! But if their behavior needs our intervention, give them their warning and if they keep it up follow through with one of the written consequences.
- Reward. If your child makes it through the day without a warning, then they get a reward of some sort. Keep it simple with a sticker or other small prize, or let them stay up five minutes past bedtime or read an extra story. Whatever the reward, lavish them with verbal praise!
All parents can take a lesson from my child’s teacher, I know I have. We all could be more consistent with our warnings and our consequences. Get creative and develop a system that works with your kids and stick with it. With consistent warnings and consequences, it won’t take long before your kids get with the program and are on their way to better behavior.