Tuesday, July 15, 2008

any ideas?

I go back and forth on how useful I think behavior charts are, and I am now swinging back into useful at times territory. Little is having a hard time using words instead of hitting, kicking, and throwing his stuff around. Given that he's well beyond toddlerhood, I think he can do better. Talking (and talking and talking) isn't working. Time outs aren't working (although they do remove his unpleasant presence from my space, so they're useful for that).

He's been begging for a behavior chart. I really don't like them, and I have told him so, and why. (I want him to learn to control his behavior because he wants to get along with me and the rest of the family. I want him to appreciate the intrinsic rewards of good behavior, etc. I'm sure it sounds like blah blah blah blah blah to him.)

So I caved, and I wrote up a behavior chart for him today. It has five goals on it, two of which he can do all the time, no problem, and one of which he can do most of the time. The other two are the hard ones, and the "real" goals. I really believe it's important to set kids up for success with these things.

Anyway, last time we did this, his reward (collected at the end of each day that went well) was an Oreo. I know, I know. Really bad (unless you're trying to create a kid with an eating disorder, in which case, be my guest). I really don't want to reward him with food this time. I also don't want to give him some kind of little toy at the end of the week. Ideally, I want to find something that doesn't cost any money, but is enough of a treat to get his attention.

So... experienced teachers and parents, what do you think? I'm looking for a weekly reward, rather than a daily one, and it can't be food, and it can't cost anything.


shaun said...

Maybe you do this a lot with your kids already, but my kids consider a move night or a game night a big deal. And somehow if it is just with dad it's even better, but that's just us. Focused parent time with a kid-chosen activity is still popular here, for now.

Is there a cool outing, like a pet store or pool?

Or maybe instead of giving food directly, offer to make food together -- bake bread or pizza dough or muffins?

A playdate that involves some cool activity?

That might serve the purpose of appreciating the intrinsic rewards of good behavior -- being pleasant leads to more good times with mom or dad or both.

Tara said...

Maybe mix up some cool experience things, large and small. Staying up one night to watch meteor showers, choosing what the family will eat for dinner (it's food but kind of in a different way), picking the next book to read for read-aloud, making a pop bottle rocket out of scrap PVC around the house. Maybe not totally free but the focus is on an experience more than anything else. Good luck, let us know what you do.

Casey said...

I agree -- experiences and one-on-one time are your best bets.

As for ideas, one of the coolest things my guys did lately was to build robot costumes out of things from the recycling bin. Fun, free, and when they were done, it all went back in the bin.

Anonymous said...

I've tried charts without much success. But it's interesting that your son begged for one. Maybe it'll work for him since it's self-motivated.

I would agree with everyone about an activity as a reward. Or something very distinctive or unusual that he likes.

Granna Judy said...

The swimming pool at the park? A ride on the Carousel? Too bad the Discovery Center isn't free.

I like the game night idea of Shaun's.

Ipo said...

what does he most ask for? my dear bunny always asks to go fishing or skateboarding with her Pa, so something like that... we seem to all be on the same idea trail here, its just a matter of what Little likes best.

but i also see your point about wanting him to do things because they are the right thing to do rather than getting a reward. tough one, but maybe don't look at it as an absolute, which seems to be what you are doing. certain solutions for certain challenges.

keep us posted, i am curious what is a treat to Little.

Laura said...

I'm curious what the goals are (and how specific they are, and things like that). Do you mind sharing?

elsie deluxe said...

I don't mind. The easy goals are: Feed the cats, Clear your place at the table. The goal that is easy most of the time (and particularly when reminded that it's on the chart) is: Pick up your toys and books. The difficult/real goals are: Use a polite inside voice, and Refrain from hitting, kicking and throwing stuff around.

For the record, Little is five and a half.