Mama Monday: The Carrot . . .

The next three weeks for Mama Monday, I will be talking about how discipline and child training work in our home. Anyone who has read very many of my blog posts knows that I love a good chart (there will be a few of those), making something fun (a bit of that as well), and simplicity (a lot of that!).

Today’s post is about the “carrot” part of discipline in our home, or in other words, the positive, teaching aspect. Many times we think of discipline as punishment, but the true meaning of the word is more correctly thought of as training, which involves both rewards and punishments. Any discipline system you use, needs to have both parts to be effective in my opinion. One without the other leads to an imbalance that makes children frustrated.

I love a good list. In fact, one of the nicknames Preacher Man calls me is “Suzy List-Maker.” I had been on the hunt for some time for a nice, concise list of rules, which would be easy for my children to memorize. I found a list that the Duggar family uses, but it was long, like twenty something of those things! I found the If/Then chart from Doorposts which didn’t have enough rules or rules that I didn’t like. At the end of February, I came across a list from Charlotte Mason Help, which was perfect. It was for six year olds, but was a list of ten basic rules that covered all the things I wanted in a nice, short way. I changed the wording on a few of them and added in Bible verses to support the rules. I did like that approach from the If/Then chart! The result was:
Our Family Rules

I printed my list on some bright, fun paper and have it on a small bulletin board that sits in our dining room window.

I spent five weeks during Circle Time introducing the rules, two at a time. We even made up a fun chant so the girls could memorize them. I tried to give examples of behaviors from our family that showed how to follow the rule and examples that broke the rule. For these five weeks I also implemented the reward part, only focusing on the rules we had learned so far.

When I catch them following one of the rules, then I say, “Go put a sticker on the chart for being kind to your brother.” Or “You obeyed Mommy so well and with a good attitude. Go put two stickers on the chart.” What’s the chart? I cut out a shape to represent the month we started this reward. 

Once we have fifty stickers on the chart, then the girls get to pick a family outing from an approved list.

We started our current reward chart in March (hence the shamrock) and once we get fifty stickers on our chart, then we get our family fun day. We are very close to our goal. The girls are so excited and are already poring over the list deciding what to do!

There are two possible flaws in my reward system both of which can be overcome with some diligence and candor. First, you have to remember to catch them. For about a month, things got crazy around here, and I totally forgot to be doing my job as the good behavior police. One day I noticed that the kids weren’t being as nice to each other as they had been and that’s when I realized I’d dropped the ball! If you do it, keep on track, and if you forget, then apologize to your kids and dive back in the next day.

The second flaw is that my children wanted to tell me about the good things they had done. This could very quickly escalate into a contest that would have me putting stickers on the chart every two seconds just so they could get the reward, so I told them that unless I catch them being good, then the sticker will not count. They can come and brag to me (I always praise them and hug them), but no sticker.

Of course my children are not angels, and the rules do get broken. Next week, we’ll look at the punishment part of discipline.

Looking out for do-gooders in the tree house,



  1. I love the family rules! Sometimes I think I make too many rules which makes it difficult for the kids to follow. This seems to be a perfect number that is easy to remember. The reward chart is a great ideas, too. I would much rather reward for the good instead of punish for the bad- if I would only remember to be watching for the good:) Great post!

    1. Rewarding for good behavior made all the difference in the world with my kids. Thanks for the pat on the back! :)