A Simple Tool for Discipline

Nadia Shanab | autism, general advice, parenting, tips
23 Sep 2010

I simply call this tool “the cards system”. It is a disciplinary tool that can be made at home and it doesn’t cost a penny. I spend maximum 10 minutes to make it.

For consistency reasons, it would be great if both, parents and school used the same tool. Parents, who implemented the idea and applied it at home, helped their child tremendously to become more disciplined and compliant. School and home should always be on the same page; it is in the child’s best interest for both to communicate.

It is an old tool, but not many people know about it. For classroom use, there is the equivalent tool that serves the entire class. It can be found in the teacher’s and school supplies stores like Lakeshore. It is definitely not my invention.

When to use cards system?

At all times throughout the day, if the child is exhibiting an undesirable behavior, or refusing to comply.

Who would the cards system work for?

Children who understand the concept of consequences, and children who really care about certain things, and children who dread certain things or certain people. For kids with depression, it will be harder to find something that they really care about, if they have no motivations at all.

How does it work?


You may include a transition time between yellow and red to allow more thinking time and more chances. Insert a blue card between yellow and red and talk more about approaching the last chance. Some children need more processing time and this blue card allows the child more chances to make the right decision. It all depends on the child, but most of them respond easily to green, yellow, and red only. Based on the child’s needs, it is up to the adult to choose to add the blue card.

Start off the day with a green card, and remember that every day is a new day. Start with a clean slate every day.

How to make the cards system?

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  1. Nathan says:

    thanks! Will make this at home and try this with our 3 year old son.

    best regards,

    Nathan de Jong, amsterdam, The Netherlands

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  5. Nadia Shanab says:

    Je vous remercie de votre gentil mot.