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:
- Nice Words
- Nice Hands & Feet
- Obey the First Time
- Keep Undies Clean (for the potty trainers among us)
- Have a Good Quiet Time
- 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.