Here's how it works. I took a poster board and divided Erin's behaviors into 3 categories: Required, Points, and Demerits. Required are things she has to do in order to get her reward. Points are good behaviors. Demerits are bad behaviors. The poster board looks like this:
I got some play jewels at the store and assigned the "star" for Required tasks, the "circle" for Points and the "square" for Demerits. Every time she completes a required task, she gets a star put into a glass jar. A circle goes in for each good act (Point), and a square goes in for each demerit. Twice a day we count up her stars, circles and squares. If she gets all three stars, and five NET circles (net = circles minus squares), she gets her reward: TV time, computer time or Leapster time. If she doesn't get five net circles or all three stars, she doesn't get to do those things.
We've been using this technique for about two days now and it seems to be working. There is less yelling on my part and less arguing on Erin's part. Erin is at least trying to monitor her behavior, i.e. not yelling as much or disobeying as much. I think this system has done a couple things. First, it has taken the personal confrontation out of discipline. Instead of her acting up and my getting after her, which became a "me vs. you" mentality, my reaction has become a very simple "You're getting a square for that" response and we move on. Secondly, since I give her circles for all her good behavior, I am focusing much more on the good things she does and encouraging her to do more good things, like saying "You'll get a circle if you help me with this task." She is much more cooperative and is very motivated to earn circles. I'm not saying that this method has instantaneously turned my little darling into the perfect angel, but I think it has helped. And I expect I will have to tweak it from time to time so that she doesn't learn how to "game the system" or just do the minimum to get by.
Do you have any discipline techniques that work well for your family?