I started saying “YES”!

“Mom, can I have a piece of candy?”

“Do I get chocolate milk for dinner tonight?”

“When can I watch a cartoon?”

“Is tonight a video game night?”

These are the questions that can drive a mamma up a crayon colored wall.  Candy, chocolate milk, T.V. and video games are not big time regulars in our house but they are big time conversations.  Conversations because one particular 4-year old wants them all the time and conversations because that same particular four year goes through phases of losing them all the time.

If I said yes, every time I was asked I would have some serious TV watching, video game playing, sugar hyped kids.  Add to that the fact that these “privileges” often serve as currency for some much needed change in behavior and you get…well.. a constant NO.

So, we have a new behavior system in our house.

We are now using tokens.  Instead of taking things away for BroBro’s bad choice in behavior, I am now giving them for his good choice in behavior.  Each time I see him exhibiting the types of behaviors I expect, he will earn a token.

The tokens are then used to “buy” those special privileges that he is so often asking for.  If he wants a particular privilege, he first counts his tokens.  If he has enough in his jar then he can ask and I am able to say ‘YES’.  If he does not, then he does not ask.  He must continue to show good behaviors and earn the tokens necessary for the wanted privilege.

At first I wondered if this was the best plan for our family.  I don’t necessarily believe my kids should be getting rewards for behavior that I expect them to exhibit but with my 4-year old I had hit a point of constant battle.  Our days were filled with back-to-back consequences because there were so many behaviors that needed to be dealt with at the same time and I was beginning to feel like our home had turned into a war zone.

We now have been using our new token system for about two weeks and so far it has been a wonderful plan for our family.  By rewarding the seen good behaviors I am not only giving him something to work towards but I am also exemplifying to him the exact behaviors I want him to show.  In addition, I am not being asked the same questions over and over.  BroBro’s repeated good behavior is leading to his wanted privileges and instead of constantly saying NO, I am getting to say YES.  It’s a win-win all around.

Now, off to teach the concept of saving for the bigger ticket items.  We’ve got a Daddy on the sidelines who is itching for the tokens to be saved and redeemed for an hour of video games.

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Acts of Kindness

“How are the older kids adjusting to the baby?”  

This has been a common question lately.

The answer:  “They have adjusted quite well to Littlest Man, it’s with each other where the trouble lies.”  

Of course since this has been a hurdle for the last 6 months it has very little to do with ‘the baby’ and much more to do with them.  For most of the day our home operates more like a boxing ring (without the boxing).  On one side there is an extremely strong-willed, very independent, only child wanna-be 4  year old (almost 5 year old).  On the other there is an almost as extremely strong-willed, also very independent, wanna do everything my brother does, 2 year old.  I am not sure which one gets the upper hand throughout the day but I do know who gets the short end of the stick; ME!

Most situations carry out as the following:

Big Man doesn’t like what Pretty Girl does and Pretty Girl only wants to do what Big Man does.  All of what she does, of course is what she has learned from him.  Big Man loses every bit of the small amount of patience that he possess and throws a fit.  Pretty Girl, hurt by Big Man’s reaction, also throws a fit.  With a newborn, you can imagine that there is also most likely a hungry, wailing infant in the background. In these situations, there is not much that I am not still learning but I have learned that 5 year olds have absolutely no concept of “Just ignore your sister and she will stop” and 2 year olds have  no concept of…well…just plain “Stop”.

I know, I know.  I did grow up as an only child myself but I am not completely naive.  Sibling rivalry is common…it’s part of life…it’s what brothers and sisters do, HOWEVER, I do wish to teach my kids that while there are times you are frustrated by the other there should be more times that you are not.  Each one of us has a role to play in this family and we can best show our love to each other by living up to the role effectively.  This means teaching Big Man how to love and protect his younger sister,   teaching him that girls have different needs than boys, and teaching him that being mean is just not an option.  It also means teaching Pretty Girl that she can trust and depend on her older brother, that boys are rough and tough (so they think) and that people have boundaries.

I have tried to handle the conflict with conversation and consequences.  I have also handed it over to Daddy and asked him to take on the responsibility of disciplining when the heart became an issue.  Progress is being made but I realized that for Big Man, the important part is for him to see that Mommy and Daddy are on the same page with this and that we are working together as a family.

As a result we have started a new dinner time routine.  It now includes a family devotion time.  While scoring the internet I came across a resource from Focus on the Family (Canada) called KIDS of INTEGRITY.  The lessons are family geared and last about a week.  Each night a bible story is read and questions are asked geared around that week’s topic of discussion.  Several hands-on activities are also included as well as memory verses and prayer examples.  Creative discipline ideas are also listed. Do you want to guess what the theme for this week includes?

                                            Kindness

So this week each of us, Mommy and Daddy included, worked together to make kindness flags.  As each day progresses we are each on the lookout for acts of kindness performed by the other.  If an act is spotted then that person’s flag is put into the jar.  The goal:  Everybody has their flag in the jar by the end of the night.  I just wonder what kinds of acts I will need to do to constitute having my flag put into the jar.