I think we're all looking for creative ways to reach the heart of our children. In our family our desire is to train them up for God (Proverbs 22:6, Ephesians 6:4), instruct them in God's Word (Deuteronomy 4:9, 11:9), command them to obey God (Deuteronomy 32:46) and so on. Our desire is not to teach them to do the right thing but to reach their hearts in such a way that they want to do the right thing. Needless to say, this can take some creativity.
So I ran across this article the other day that had some really great stuff. It's called 21 Creative Consequences. It is pretty creative and may even give you some other ideas. I believe it's geared more for 'tweens', but I've been able to use a few of these ideas for my little 4 year old. I would encourage you to check it out. Click the picture or click here to take you to the article.
So I stole this idea on pinterest. They called it a Wise Choice Jar. It's a simple see-through jar and a pile of 'rocks' (I found some really pretty shell shaped looking pebbles at the dollar store and just bought a bunch of them). I started this because there had been a few days where I just felt like I was constantly trying to get the kids to do what I wanted them to do... be kind, share, speak kindly to each other, etc. Nothing seemed to be working. When I saw this idea, I thought it taught a few different things... first, it allowed me to be intentional about rewarding them for making wise or good decisions. Whenever I see the kids share kindly, whenever they obey first time all the way with a happy heart, whenever they fight the urge to throw themselves on the floor in anger over not getting what they want, etc, I allow them to pick one rock and put it in the jar. When the jar is full, they may receive a prize. I think this teaches them a few things... 1. In real life we are not always immediately rewarded when we make a wise, smart or Godly decision. But over time, there are blessing when we continue to make wise decisions. 2. It teaches them to be aware of the choices they are making. We've noticed that since we started incorporating this activity into the day, the kids are more aware that they are making a good decision or a bad one (particularly when they share something and they immediately ask, can I put a rock in the jar??) 3. It teaches them to rejoice when our brothers and sisters make a wise decision. The boys really get excited when they can put a rock in the jar and have even cheered and congratulated each other in being able to pick out a rock and put it in the jar. 4. In our home, we use all types of methods for disciplining. More times than not, it's easier for them to physically see or experience their disobedience and the consequnces for making wrong decisions (i.e. having to sit in a time out or being spanked). Instead of just hearing the words "great job, I'm proud of you for making a good decision", they can also physically experience the positive rewards (by putting a rock in the jar) of making good decisions also! Needless to say, we love the wise decision jar!
Having two boys in our house, it can get pretty roudy. They love to wrestle, run, yell and roll around on the ground... It seems that they do it when they like each other as well as when they are mad at each other. And sometimes this mommy just needs a break... I need the house to be quite for just 5 minutes so I can regather my senses. When I feel like the boys just need a 'time out' to calm themselves (or I just need to calm down), I use my glitter Calm Down Jar... another amazing idea found on pinterest. It is a jar that is filled with glitter, glue (or glitter glue) and water. You fill the jar with all three and then shake it up. Depending on the ratio of glue to water, it can take however long you want it to take for all the glitter/glue to settle back down at the bottom. Mine takes exactly 7 minutes.
So, the rule in this house, if everyone is too roudy to stop and be quite, the Calm Down Jar gets taken out and everyone must sit facing the jar and quietly watch the glitter sink to the bottom (my rule is that if anyone says a word in those precious and very needed quiet 7 minutes, the jar gets shaken up again and the timer starts all over). So far, this has really helped me keep my sanity on a number of occasions!