I had never heard of Conscious Discipline until I enrolled my son in Pre-K. I read that his school used Conscious Discipline methods throughout the day in the classroom, and I didn’t think much of it. Then one day my son came home talking about pretzel and balloon breathing, and the vague explanation of a four-year-old paired with, “you’re supposed to just KNOW, MOM” led me to dig a little deeper. A couple hours later, I had gone down a very informative Conscious Discipline rabbit hole and I was ALL IN.
Conscious Discipline is a method of classroom management, discipline, and social-emotional curriculum based on whole-brain research, founded by Dr. Becky Bailey. I cannot even begin to touch on the science behind it, but what I noticed about the techniques my son’s teacher was using for discipline, self-regulation, and social-emotional learning was, IT WORKED. Something about this curriculum really struck a chord with our 4-year-old. I would strongly recommend checking out their website! There is tons of information and lots of printable, free resources. The main character in the Conscious Discipline curriculum is a lightning bug named Shubert. There are tons of stories and scenarios on the website involving Shubert and his friends and family that provide great real-life scenario examples for how Conscious Discipline can be used.
Because of the success my son was having at school, I decided to try and start incorporating some Conscious Discipline methods into our own home. Here are 5 things that changed the dynamic of our home.
1. Visual Routine
If your child can read, write out a schedule with activities next to the corresponding times. For us, I just wrote out a schedule with pictures on a large piece of paper. This really helped with the getting ready for school routine we were struggling with every single morning, and now that we are home all day we made a new one that helps give our day a bit of structure.
Our visual schedule is pretty simple. I am (clearly) not much of an artist, but our son understands what is going on next to each time (although he was quick to point out a blue light saber and green light saber would never fight each other because they are both good guys) and is able to look at the clock and see what activity we are going to be doing next. It has also taken the stress out of him constantly bugging me for screen time, because he can look at the clock and the cards, and see that screen time is at 1:00 pm and he is able to answer for himself if he is allowed to turn on the TV.
2. I love you ritual
You are probably already doing an I Love You Ritual at home with your child! Do you sing them a bedtime song every night or rock them while you say a prayer? That is an I Love You Ritual. There are hundreds of little rhymes you can do with your child on YouTube. They are an intentional way to make contact by touching another person. Our favorite one to do each morning is to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and goes like this:
“Twinkle twinkle little star, what a special child you are” (point to child)
“With big bright eyes” (touch child’s face near eyes)
“And rosy cheeks” (touch child’s cheeks)
“Incredible child from your head to your feet” (touch child’s head and feet)
“Twinkle twinkle little star, what a special child you are!” (Big hug at the end!)
Have them switch and do the motions on you instead! This is one of my favorite ways to connect with our son at the beginning of each day!
3. Practice breathing as a calm down method.
Using the balloon or pretzel method of breathing (my son’s personal favorites) give us a fun way to take a break, calm down, and reset. It works great for me too. In a moment of frustration,what brings your temper back down than pretending to act like a deflating balloon? When the kids are fighting and I need to break it up, it really helps me to take a deep breath first instead of charging in guns blazing.
4. Make a commitment.
Some examples of a commitment could be using kind words, using helping hands, or a goal we have for the day such as doing 2 activities on the learning dashboard, picking up the kid’s rooms, or eating healthy meals. At the end of the day, we check in and evaluate if we fulfilled our commitment or if we had an “OOPS” day and need more practice. Checking in with our son at the end of the day helps give him a sense of responsibility for his actions and behaviors throughout the day.
5. Family job.
At school, our son’s teacher’s job is to keep it safe, and the student’s job is to help keep it safe. We use that same rule at home. Each morning as we start our online learning, or as we prepare to leave the house for a walk or outing, my son and I remind each other that it’s my job to keep it safe, and his job to help keep it safe.
Have you heard of Conscious Discipline? I would love to hear about ways you are incorporating it into your own home or your classroom!