Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thinking Outside the Box

How many times do you give empty threats … how many times do you say the same thing? Even though we developed the Accountable Kids program, my husband and I are still trying to get this parenting thing right. Let's face it, parenting is tough! We do the best with what we have, and every day we try to raise accountable kids.

Lately we have had trouble getting the girls to go to bed quietly. The Privilege Pass was a great incentive to help our young kids develop a positive habit of going to bed, but now that our kids are 12, 10 and 8 we found ourselves in need of something more. We needed an "out of the box" solution.

Yesterday was a very busy day and dinner was late. I sent the girls up to bed. I told them I would clean up the kitchen and do the dishes, but I warned them that if they didn't go straight to bed I would have them come down and clean. Needless to say, I had to run upstairs several times to tell my girls to be quiet, settle down and get to sleep. One needed another drink, the other had to go to the bathroom and needed something in another room. Then I found them jumping on the bed and running around the room. They were wound up and having a great time while I finished all the dishes and cleaned the kitchen. I was tired and not in a good mood! I was full of empty threats and no consequences.

On the way up to their room, yet again, I realized that I was saying, “If I have to come up one more time and quiet you down, there will be a problem.” I realized that I was the one with the problem, not them. My problem was that I had not set a definite consequence for the behavior that was troubling me; I needed a consequence that was impactful.

I decided my “out of the box” solution was to put their energy to good use. I turned on the light and told the two girls who couldn’t settle down to get up. I didn’t get upset and did it in a pleasant, loving matter. I told them I was sorry they had made the choice, but if they were so energized, they could come downstairs and vacuum and fold laundry. They looked at me like I was crazy. Suddenly they were very tired. These were not easy jobs and took time to complete. When they were finished I told them I loved them, appreciated their work, thanked them, and was sorry that they chose not to go to bed. As they were wearily getting into bed I told them the floors still needed to be mopped if they still were not ready to sleep. They went to bed tired and quietly fell asleep.

The next day we discussed choices and consequences together as a family. We went over bedtime rules and the specific consequences for not following those rules. That night the girls went to bed and all was quiet. It felt great to know that if they chose to stay up the consequence would not be on me! This "out of the box" solution has brought peace once again to our evenings. It is just another reminder that It’s up to us, the parents, to set limits and enforce boundaries in a creative, respectful manner so that our children can learn important life lessons.

Do you have an "out of the box" idea? I would love to hear from you.


  1. Wonderful Idea, I think that might work with my older 2 kids, but I'm having trouble with my 3 yr old. Any suggestions?

  2. I had great success using the Privilege Pass for helping my younger kids go to bed. If they stayed in bed they earned the Privilege Pass which could be used the next night for an extra book read by mom. My kids loved the extra time and attention and it helped them develop positive habits.

  3. Love it! Great idea. I wonder how diligent they were since they were suddenly tired :) I have found, ironically, that even thought we have used AK for 5 years, as they have gotten older, I am doing more threats! Bad move :( The book "Creative Correction" by Lisa Welchel is filled with great out-of-the-box solutions! I highly recommend it.

  4. For my daughter who will be 4 next week, we already read together all the time, so an extra book is not probably going to be such a big deal. Also, she would be so excited to get to go downstairs and vacuum or fold laundry because she would not be going to bed and it would be almost a reward to have her clean something up. We just started the program today so I will have to think on the privilege pass. Bedtime is definitely a time when I would use it!

  5. What do you do if you can't get your kids to do anything? They were really excited about the program when we first got it, but now they are getting lazy. If we try to make them do extra chores for not following the cards or directions, they won't do those either. They don't care if we take away priveleges like TV. They just get silly and be weird with the dog or something. We've tried taking away toys and having them face the wall for not listening and nothing seems to work?