When I remember, I like to watch SuperNanny or Nanny 911. Sometimes I watch to feel better about myself by watching other children behave worse than mine and other times I watch to find new ways to solve problems at my own house.
One of the techniques she often employs is a reward system for good behavior. On the show this usually involves some kind of jar with marbles or something like that. I have always liked the idea, but found the application of it not too practical for our busy lifestyle. That is until yesterday morning, when I had a moment of inspiration...
We were about to leave for a busy day with a trip to the dentist followed by a trip to an amusement park. As I was grabbing things to leave I saw a roll of raffle tickets. Still unsure exactly how I would use them, I grabbed about 20, stuffed them in my pocket and we were on our way.
While we were in the car, I explained to the kids what the plan was for the day. Then I set my newly thought up system into place. I told the Tumbleweed that for everything she did well she would receive one ticket (this included doing as she was asked when she was asked, helping without being asked, and other good deeds). I also told her that for any problems she would lose a ticket. At that point I wasn't quite sure what the reward would be, but I told her that when she had enough tickets she could "trade" them in for something she wanted. She seemed to like this plan...
It really worked well, especially at the amusement park. I held all of the tickets - the ones she had earned were in one pocket and the rest were in another pocket. When she earned one (or lost one) I just moved them from one side to the other. At lunchtime we counted them and talked about what she might want to do with her reward. She decided that going on a pony ride looked like fun. Since she had 7 tickets at that point, I set the mark at 10 tickets to earn a pony ride.
The threat of taking a ticket away was enough to discourage wandering & whining most of the time. She did lose a couple for yelling at Mommy or not doing what she was told, but at the end of our day she had earned enough for a pony ride.
After the trial run, I am continuing the ticket system. It seems to work in several ways ---
1. when she wants something, I can set the number of tickets she needs to earn to get it (ex. she did nice things all the way through the grocery store today to earn FruitaBu fruit rolls).
2. when there isn't something clear that she wants, I can ask her what she'd like to save her tickets up for and we can make plans to do that when she gets enough.
3. She is learning the concept of earning "money" & "paying" for things
4. She can see that there are tangible consequences for bad behavior, since Timeout isn't always enough. (In the past I would take away a reward for bad behavior, but she didn't really know how close she was to earning it. Now she can see that she is so close & doesn't want to mess up!)
5. It is more portable than SuperNanny's jar system. We are on the go way to much to wait until we return home to transfer balls into a jar - I could never keep track!
I hope the novelty doesn't wear off too quickly & that this continues to work for a while! It has been pretty peaceful on the four-year-old front for the past two days. I still have a "terrible" two year old to deal with --- I guess I will be back watching SuperNanny for tantrum-busters....
Here are a few old SuperNanny-inspired posts:
Daily Schedule - August 2008
Time-out - January 2009
Meal Time - May 2009
10 months ago