08 March, 2008

My rules

Yup, another really long post. How exciting!

Anyhow, I was going to post this over at This Thing We Do, but then it turned out to be four pages long, so I'm posting an abbreviated version there, and the whole thing here.

General rules:

#1 most important: It's okay to be mad. It's NOT okay to be mean. This means it's good to let out anger in safe ways, like writing, playing the "explosion game," talking, drawing, hitting something safe, writing, etc. It is BAD to let out anger in ways that hurt other people, OR yourself. Even "accidental" hurting like breaking your foot by kicking a concrete garbage can. (Um, can I just clarify, I only did that *once*.)

Also in this category is not saying "whatever" to W. (As in rolling my eyes and saying "whatever." The consequence for that is getting my mouth washed out with soap. I suppose were I the type to swear at her, that would also be cause for getting my mouth washed out with soap, but it has yet to happen.) And I should do my best not be a punk or deliberately jerky or difficult. This includes “button-pushing.” This is hard to quantify, but we both kind of know what’s going on when it happens.

We have to eat three nutritious meals every day. A bagel is nutritious. A donut is not. Use your head. If you can't eat, a smoothie is an acceptable substitute. Soda is not. If I have "tummy yuck" that rule can be suspended.

Bedtime is 11:15 on school nights, 12:00 otherwise. An adult, or W, can decide on a change. "Not wanting to fight" is NOT an acceptable reason to suspend bedtime. Consequence for not following this: go to bed as much earlier the next night as I delayed the previous night. Even if the part who is out the next night isn't the one who delayed the previous night, this rule remains in effect. If you resist a second time, it's 2 minutes earlier per minute than the first earlier bedtime.

As a system, we're responsible for doing at least one "job" a day. If it's mostly the little kids out, these are things like feeding the cats or taking out the trash. If it's teens, it's washing dishes, sweeping, etc. Adults: grocery shopping, laundry, errands, major housecleaning, etc. (There have been several versions of this. Currently, it's that W will give us a set of jobs to get done during the week, and we work on them as we're able. Or that's the theory, anyways.)


I cannot read W’s mind. She cannot read my mind. I need to accept that neither of us is a mind-reader, and to be willing to say what I’m feeling, and believe her when she says what’s going on for her.


The book (where we keep notes about what works, process-related stuff, copies of the rules, and the pages of lines) gets returned to W’s bedside table. Do not destroy or hide the book. If you do destroy the book or “lose” it, then you are responsible for replicating everything that was in it, including all of the pages of lines.

Non-adult parts are NOT allowed to rescind the rules. It isn’t fair to take advantage of W’s desire to do the right thing by insisting that the rules are not helpful. It’s not acceptable to trick W into thinking that you are someone who is allowed to negotiate when you actually aren’t.

System-related rules:

No part is allowed to “go away.” You can stay inside the head, but NOT try to get rid of yourself. We are a system, and each part is important. We have to learn how to work together, even if it’s hard.

We all have to work on being clear about which part is active, internally if nowhere else. In safe situations, we need to let trusted people know who we are.

NO ONE is allowed to run away or hurt the body. Not at all. Or to plan or threaten to do this.

No one under 14 is allowed to drive the car. No exceptions. If someone under 14 needs to switch in, we GET OFF THE ROAD FIRST. This rule is not negotiable.

No one under 20 is allowed to leave the house alone after 9 PM (except for specific, time-limited errands, like going to the store; this is only with permission). You are not allowed to trick W into thinking you’re an adult. If someone DOES sneak out, another part is entirely correct to tell W. This is serious: it’s about safety.

There’s a LOT of process-related stuff throughout the notebook, about consequences that do and don’t work, and stuff like that. One thing I want to say is, it’s kind of nice to look back and see all of the progress that *has* been made, even when it seems like there hasn’t been much. Anyhow.

I’ll try to go through and summarize what’s there.

Consequences that work:

Spankings are effective with most of the parts who do things that would earn them a spanking. They are more effective depending on the position (ie, bent over the bed vs. lying across the bed in front of W). Lighter spankings are less effective (except with the younger parts, who really don’t need a very hard spanking for it to be effective). There’s a balance between long/hard, and it’s hard to put my finger on exactly what works best. A spanking that is too short, or too light, isn’t effective. One thing that would help spankings to be more effective is for W to not worry about whether it will hurt me/us. She really is not going to be able to cause serious damage.

Writing lines can be effective. It helps when it’s used to reinforce a rule that has been broken a couple of times. They work better after a spanking, rather than before, or in place of a spanking, although writing a LOT of lines can sometimes be a punishment in itself. Writing just a few lines, before a spanking, lends itself to resistance and that being ineffective.

Corner time works well mostly as a way of focusing my mind before a spanking. It helps when there’s a short lecture beforehand, making clear WHY I am standing in the corner, and keeping me focused.

Losing computer games is most effective as a punishment for Jamie. Less so for the others.

Losing the computer might be effective, but it also seems to induce some serious upset/panic, so I’m not sure whether that’s because it’s a serious consequence, or because it really is too much.

Mouth washed out with soap: as a consequence for saying things that are not okay, this is really effective.

Being “grounded” is probably an effective punishment, except that lately, I haven’t been getting out of the house for much other than therapy. But it’s still a thought in general.

Early bedtime: very effective as a response to not going to bed on time. I’m gonna rat the rest of us out, and point out that in the last bedtime negotiation, you said that bedtime would be 11:15 UNLESS RULES WERE BROKEN that day, in which case it would be 9:45.

Having extra chores, either when I didn’t do the ones I was supposed to, or as a consequence for being a jerk. This is a complicated one, because it needs to be balanced between being strict and being reasonable. But maybe if I remember that I can say “red light” or something similar if I get overwhelmed (rather than pushing limits), this would work.

Process-related stuff:

One thing that comes up a lot is that it’s better to be too strict than not strict enough. Giving me extra chances results in harder pushing of the limits. We do have a safe word (red light/yellow light), and we WILL use it if we need you to stop or slow down. Anything else is mostly either a response to the punishment, or being manipulative (I think you know who I’m talking about there!).

TELLING me what to do is better than asking, particularly in the context of discipline.

Doing the consequence sooner rather than later, or making it clear that there will be a consequence (and following through on that!) is better.

W is getting MUCH better about following through on consequences, and not negotiating over the rules. That helps a LOT.

Maybe it would help W to think of her role in discipline as though it were improv. If she doesn’t commit, it won’t work. I trust her to be safe, and not to hurt me. And we’d all much rather that she made a mistake than that she did nothing.

We all respond to direct questions, and our lies are much more likely to be by omission than outright lies. So asking a direct question will help to hold us accountable.

New plan for Sunday maintenance:

Do it on Sunday afternoon.

Check in about the week that just went by, and talk about what went well, and what didn’t go well.

Corner time, with something to focus on (ie, about how the past week went).


Check in about the week to come (discuss anything that’s happening, and also give a list of tasks for the week).

JA journals for 15 minutes, and comes back to spend time with W.

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