Yesterday, my 3.5-year-old son Adam lost all 3 of his tickets. The first was for blatantly not following directions regarding getting dressed in the morning. The second and third were for arguing. He was extremely upset when I took away the third ticket and began removing all toys from his room. He then spent the afternoon and evening, until bedtime, in his room (aside from snacks and meals).
It will be interesting to see how today goes. I have begun to question whether he really understands what arguing is, which I define by times when he responds by saying “But I don’t/didn’t want to,” “But I don’t want to wait,” and so on. It has been my belief that by giving warnings and/or taking away a ticket when he does this, he will start to learn what arguing is. I guess we will stay the course unless we come across firm evidence that what we’re doing is futile.
All in all, I believe that kids need to be convinced that you as the parent mean business. Kids aren’t likely to reach this conclusion unless they have the rug pulled out from under them, often in the form of lost privileges (NOT lost REWARDS).
Rosemond is very clear about the difference between removing a privilege and withholding a reward, and I use this as a guiding principle all the time. In short, a privilege is something that the child normally gets to do or enjoy, whereas a reward is something above and beyond that. For my son, getting a story at bedtime is a privilege, but getting a new toy at the store (or even a sticker on a chart) is a reward. I also consider having toys to play with to be a privilege that can be taken away.