We’ve had mostly good experiences with the kids at Camp NanaPapa (our Grandma Camp). However, we’ve also had our share of arguments and tears. After all. . .they’re kids. With that said, we needed a way to keep the peace while not ruining the fun of camp. . .so we needed to think about the best way to discipline at grandma camp.
Why do I need to think about discipline at grandma camp?
It’s tough to ever think that any of our grandchildren would act in a way that was less than exemplary, right? However, we know it happens. . .especially when you get them together 24 hours a day for multiple days.
Just like siblings (which some of them are), they may get on each other’s nerves. Or, being away from mom and dad gives them a sense of giddy mischief – you know, when the cat’s away; the mice play. Then, there’s always the overtired or sugar-infused little one who has a meltdown right in the middle of an activity or outing.
When this happens, it can make for tense moments for the kids and you too. Good rules and proper consequences help with everyone’s safety, happiness. . .and sanity!
A good rule of thumb is that it’s always better to handle discipline at grandma camp from a proactive standpoint rather than to wait until an incident occurs to decide how you are going to handle it.
How should I set rules and consequences for grandma camp?
One of the very best ways to set up rules and consequences is to involve the kids. However, start with your “non-negotiables” (you know, the things that you won’t budge on). Then, allow the kids to have some input on what rules they think will help everyone be happy and stay safe. After that, charge them to come up with some consequences that fit the broken rules.
I like to use a page similar to the sample above.
Remember to make the consequences clear, reasonable and few. You could definitely incorporate time outs, distractions, or any other discipline tactic that you want to use. But whatever it is, make sure it is not a surprise to any of the children.
Should I have a separate place to carry out the discipline at grandma camp?
This is a question that needs a bit of exploration. First of all, some of the discipline might need to be carried out in private so that the child doesn’t feel embarrassed. However, being separated and isolated may make your grandchild feel insecure or anxious.
So, be sensitive to those times when the conversation might make your grandchild feel ashamed in front of the others. In that case, take the child away from the group or in a separate room to talk to them.
Perhaps, the behavior needs a change of scenery, so to speak, and the child may need some quiet time to regroup. Carefully judge each individual situation and do what’s best for your grandchild.
Mostly, I have found that what works well is to simply take your grandchild aside, speak briefly to them, and get them back into the group. Generally, it’s best not to make a big deal of a little bit of misbehavior. But, do handle the big stuff in private if possible.
What are some ways to deal with discipline at grandma camp?
There are two things that we started at Camp NanaPapa that have really proven to help foster good behavior and promote building those family relationships. This lessens the need for much disciplining.
Random Acts of Kindness Badges
One is that we use badges to encourage random acts of kindness while at camp. I created a laminated badge for the kids to wear on a colorful lanyard. On the badge are 15 things that they can do to be kind at camp. The badge looks like this:
Me and my youth counselors keep hand punches (with star and heart shaped punches) with us. Whenever the kids complete one of the things on the badge, they can tell us about it and we punch that space on their card. Sometimes we even just catch them in the act, and that’s really fun.
If they get all the spaces on their card punched by the end of camp, they get a small prize from the treasure box.
The other thing we do is create a Kindness Corner.
We set up a Kindness Corner at our house. This is a small corner of the living room (actually a cubby under the stairs) where the grandchildren can go to chill out, regroup, re-focus, relax, or just hang out. At grandma camp, this area is a place of calm and quiet away from the chaos.
We don’t use our living room much during camp, but it is a main, open room near all the other rooms we use. So, while it’s not total isolation, it is still somewhat quiet and away from the main action.
In our corner, we have things for the kids to do and play with. We have small manipulatives like a fidget spinner, beads, a cube toy, and other things like that. We have paper, colored pencils, crayons, and other art items.
Here’s a detailed list of what I put in our Kindness Corner. You definitely can do more or less depending on the amount of children using the space and their interests. (I added links to some of the items below in case you wanted to see what I am describing.)
- Small table with 2 small chairs (You could also place a beanbag chair or just a simple rug for the kids to sit on in this space.)
- An organizer with drawers – this can be either the countertop kind or perhaps a rolling cart.
- Art/Coloring supplies – blank paper, lined paper, 3×5 cards, colored pencils, crayons, pencils and erasers, etc.
- Fidget spinner and other manipulatives to keep little hands busy
- Some cool Play-doh Slime
- This little egg puzzle that was kind of like a Rubik’s Cube. (found it at the dollar store)
- Flexi Crystal Brainteaser
- Lego maze(s) with marbles
- Silly Putty
- Squishy toys (like stress balls)
- Calm down jar
- “I Spy” book
- Small puzzle
- Wooden beads and pipe cleaners to string them on
- “Breathing” cards
- Lacing cards
- *Prompt Cards for “mailbox” (see below)
*I put up an over-the-door shoe organizer (a.k.a. “mailbox”) and put the kids names on the pockets. In our Kindness Corner, if the child wants to color a picture for someone or write them a note, they could put the finished picture or note in the pocket for that child.
The Prompt Cards are little starters for the kids like these:
Ideas for how to use the Kindness Corner
I originally intended to use this space simply for discipline at grandma camp. . .like when someone needed a time our. However, we use it for when the kids need to regroup themselves, or just to get away from the chaos for a bit.
At the beginning of camp, I describe what is there for them, how to use the items in the corner, and tell them they can go there any time they need to. However, it’s understood that the corner may need to be vacated if a child truly requires a “time out” and needs to be left alone for a bit.
The Kindness Corner worked like a charm! Our discipline needs were minimal this year. The kids had a place that they could go if they were feeling overwhelmed by their surroundings. They knew there was something fun and quiet to do there. It truly helped to have the kids monitor themselves.
Since this worked so well, we have decided to keep our Kindness Corner set up all the time. This way, it’s available to the kids any time they are in our home.
Setting good rules and having some discipline at grandma camp keeps both you and the kids sane and creates a desire for more togetherness.
There is one last piece of advice that I can give for helping with the discipline at your camp: Make sure everyone gets good sleep and keep sugar at a minimum (until the last day of course). 😉