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I have lotsa littler ones who need that intervention (8, 6, 4, 9months) and a 12yr old with severe anxiety. We homeschool. In other words, our days are interesting. 🙂 I’m also keen not to feel the failure of not hitting a planned mark, so to speak, exactly like you mentioned.
Here’s how I handled it:
I had a time allocation called “child training” and I marked it for every time we redirected, resolved conflict, did character/chore training. I averaged out my three day time allocation, added fifteen minutes and use that for my focus list. My focus list adds up to 24hrs. If I don’t use all of it, we do an activity together (game, cook, teach a skill). If I use all of it, it’s ok. If I over use it, then something else is deducted from (like when we go to an appointment or have an abnormal activity).
I will say, one of the things we have done which made a huge difference is we cut a lot of the escalation off at the pass now. If the kids are arguing and escalating, talking back, hitting/yelling/screaming/wailing, or just generally out of control; we send them to the staircase (a fairly dull place, nothing to do) until they have a “happy heart.” Pretty much that means able to control their bodies and emotions. Well, all except the baby 😉 They self regulate. They can come out when they feel ready and then we deal with whatever was going wrong (argument, won’t do chores, etc) in a calm manner. It’s not time out – it’s time to become less volatile and then handle the issue. This has cut my time dealing with conflicts or character issues. Does that make any sense?