Sunday, February 10

Thanking Him for Protection

As you've probably heard, Super Tuesday turned into a night of super tornadoes here in Tennessee. A tornado touched down in Fairview during the first cell of storms that went through, and by God's grace, we survived with no damage whatsoever. Although we weren't that scared on Tuesday night (it really didn't seem THAT bad here), it's been alarming to discover just how close the Fairview tornado was to our house. We had the news on and were watching the radar on, but we never heard the tornado or saw anything other than lots of lightning and some hail. If we had known that the tornado was just 1-3 miles south of us, we would have been hiding out in the closet downstairs instead of watching from upstairs! Over thirty homes were destroyed in Fairview, and we drove by this church today on our way to church. (Here are some more pictures.) We drive this way to church every Sunday, and to see the destruction and the path of fallen trees and debris just a few miles away was definitely a sobering sight. It looked like a steamroller drove down over the hill and flattened every tree in its path.

On the positive side, it's been wonderful to see how our church has rallied to help tornado victims, and the little town of Fairview has really pulled together. Tragedy does have a way of bringing out the best in people. The kids and I had the chance to volunteer yesterday, sorting donations and clothing so that everyone who lost their homes can come "shopping" and start to rebuild their lives again. I know that this earth and our belongings are not all there is to this life, but to lose every earthly possession has to be one of the most devastating things to face. Even more so, I think of the thirty-three families across Tennessee who are without a loved one today because of these storms. So many times natural disasters are far away, and while I feel for the people, it's not the same as when the storm is literally in your town. The feeling of "that could have been us" was always in the back of my mind this week.

So we will keep reaching out to those who have been affected, and we will keep thanking God for his protection of our family. Hug your families a little tighter tonight. I know I will be! (Oh, and if they say there are tornados sighted, just go to your "safe place," okay? I wish we had taken a bit more precaution that night. Lesson learned!)

Friday, February 8

Reward Board Revisited

The emails have been pouring in (okay, there were three), and I decided to take a minute to clarify a few things about the Reward Board.

I base earning coins on two things. Number one, if Kaden obeys one of the house rules, he gets a coin. For example, if he obeys the first time when I ask him to do something, he gets a coin. If he uses kind words with me or Delaney, he gets a coin. I decided early on that I had to be as willing to see the positive and reward it as I was to jump on the negative and penalize him.

Number two, if Kaden does something I deem positive, he earns a coin. Kaden's very loving with Delaney and is generally a great sharer, so I try to emphasize his strong points by rewarding him with coins when I catch him being sweet to her. He's also pretty good at helping around the house, like scrubbing the tub with shampoo (!) when I'm cleaning or running the handvac. He gets coins for stuff like that b/c I want him to feel good about being part of the team effort that is family. Of course not everything fits into the rules we have listed, but a lot of things fall under nice words or nice hands & feet. We also reward him with a coin for good behavior when we're out and about -- church, the grocery store, etc.

Josh and I decided not to have an elaborate system of points and degrees of rewards. Everything is worth one coin, whether good or bad. I suppose the time could come where Kaden would do something so fantastic that it would deserve two coins, but we haven't had that come up yet. :-)

One thing I'm not sure what to do with yet is when losing one coin doesn't cause Kaden to amend his behavior. Losing one coin works 98% of the time, but there are occasionally times where he just gets it in his head that he's going to be naughty regardless of coins or rewards. In that case, I usually send him to his room to cool down so I don't rifle through all of his coins for one infraction.

Oh, and for Holly B. -- we super-glued magnets on the back of nickels. They've worked like a charm!

If any of you implement this in your home, let me know how it goes. I hope our Reward Board has inspired you!

Sunday, February 3

Kaden's Reward Board - Part 2

Now that you've all been on the edge of your seat for a good 24 hours, I'll continue my post.

One day in the beginning of January, we were all in the car together, and Josh told me he had come up with an idea that he thought would help Kaden's current behavior issues. His idea has affectionately become known as the "Reward Board," thus instituting the 2nd generation of the "Reward System" -- good choices earn good consequences and bad choices earn bad consequences. As you may be able to tell from the picture, there is a Bank (Mom & Dad's money), a Savings Account (Kaden's spot to stash coins he earns each day), the Hesse House Rules on the left, and the Reward section at the bottom. Every day, Kaden gets to start with 3 coins, and then he earns and loses coins based on his behavior and the choices he makes.

Our rules are:

  1. Nice Words
  2. Nice Hands & Feet
  3. Obey the First Time
  4. Keep Undies Clean (for the potty trainers among us)
  5. Have a Good Quiet Time
  6. Keep Emotions Under Control (no tantrums)

The best part of this for me is that I don't feel like the Lone Discipline Ranger anymore. Not that Josh wasn't involved before, but since I spend most of my time at home with the kids, I was the one here dealing with bad behavior. But now, even when Josh is at work, he's still involved in Kaden's discipline b/c we came up with this system together, and Kaden knows that Daddy's serious about it. In fact, if Kaden gets down to zero coins at any point in the day, he has to answer to Daddy, not me. Kaden has to go to Josh the next morning and explain why he lost all his coins and receive a Daddy punishment (much scarier to Kaden than regular 'ole Mommy). Josh checks the board each night when he gets home from work, and he always talks to Kaden about how his day went the next morning.

We put the white board in the kitchen, the hub of the house, so that we could all see it and remember the rules. Kaden likes moving coins over from the bank when he makes a good choice, but he's not so fond of losing coins. He's already earned two trips to the YMCA swimming pool and one lunch in his treehouse. He loves using his coins for rewards!

So how's it working? Well, we've had about 3 weeks at it, and I have to say that I've definitely seen an improvement in Kaden's behavior -- and in my stress level. I haven't been losing my temper on a daily basis anymore, so this is a good thing! I'm not a temper person, but the boy was literally driving me to tears! Having more structure with clearly defined rewards has made it less of a guessing game on how to reward Kaden when he exceeds our expectations -- both in a good way and in a bad way!

Kaden's really caught on to the idea, too. He's already suggested that Laney have her own board (he likes the idea of being in charge of someone), and he even told me that I need my own board! One night I reprimanded him in a frustrated tone, and he said, "Mom, I think you need your own board because you just lost a coin." At first I thought he was upset with me because I had reprimanded him, and I told him that mommies are allowed to make rules for the kids and expect them to obey. But he further clarified to me that he didn't like the way I said it to him. He was right! I apologized for my tone, and we hugged. He makes me smile when he does stuff like that. My mother-in-law told me one night that Kaden's sensitivity to my tone of voice shows her that we're doing a good job teaching him how to treat others and talk to people. He calls me on it when my tone is anything other than gentle and calm. The kid keeps me honest, I tell ya. Imagine that -- being held to my own rules!

I'm sure Kaden will outgrow these particular rules and rewards at some point, but the reasoning behind the system will keep working. We'll have to adapt the boundaries and the rewards, but I think we've definitely tapped into something that will work for us for many years to come.