The Honest Mommy

Uncensored thoughts on parenting & more

No discipline is pleasant at the time: Thoughts on rewards June 23, 2010

My recent post about helping my almost 5yo son overcome his desire to withhold his urine has garned a fair amount of traffic and comments. I want to thank Trish and Flybaby for taking the time to share their thoughts in the comments section.

I agree with Trish that the chart was helpful for him, especially since his grasp of time is still developing. I think it’s interesting to note that a chart which keeps a track record is different from the “reward charts” that we as parents are accustomed to. With a reward chart, a sticker is emphasized as the reward (or, a sticker is used as a way to mark progress toward some type of reward, like a trip out for ice cream). If such a chart is being used with a child, s/he can easily decide at any time that s/he is no longer interested in the reward, however enticing it may be.

In contrast, a chart that’s used to keep a track record of how a child is progressing toward earning back normal, everyday privileges (in my son’s case, the privilige of being out of his room, playing with toys, and so on) isn’t really a rewards chart at all, but rather is a visual aid to help the child understand things like the passage of time. It is also a memory aid that allows the parent to point out, for example, “Yesterday, you got a sad face because you chose to wet your underwear after lunch instead of using the toilet.”

I suppose I’m in the minority because I am not a fan of rewards. It’s not that I never, ever use them, but I use them so seldom that it’s hardly worth mentioning. (Recently I used small candies to get my 20mo son over a potty training hump, and I took them out of the picture after a very short period of time.) I am truly grateful to John Rosemond for educating parents, and anyone who will listen, about the farce of rewards. I feel it has saved me a good deal of time and heartache to avoid the topic from the get-go.

I don’t claim to be an expert on the topic, but I imagine that my grandmother would have frowned on reward charts or any kind of special privileges bestowed on a child for doing what s/he should be doing anyhow (keeping pants dry, doing homework, etc.). And I think she did a pretty fabulous job of raising her five children!


Lots of silver linings to be found in conflict with MIL July 14, 2009

About a month ago, I had a major blow-out with my MIL. At that point, DH and I decided to discontinue the longstanding babysitting schedule (2 afternoons/week plus 1 overnight/week) until/unless the underlying issues could be resolved.

We have discovered since then that there are many upsides to this otherwise ugly situation.

  1. I don’t need to schedule around the babysitting schedule, therefore, I have a lot more freedom when it comes to scheduling activities, appointments, and so on.
  2. I don’t have to see MIL 3 times per week , which has ratcheted down my stress level several notches. More often than not, after she would stop by to pick up Kid_1, I would feel aggravated or stressed from something she had said or done.
  3. Related to the above point — we don’t need to explain or justify our parenting decisions to her on a regular basis. Case in point — Last week I decided to become very regimented with Kid_1’s nap schedule (inspired by a recent column from John Rosemond), AND I didn’t need to go through the hassle and stress of explaining it to her, AND Kid_1 has been napping very well lately, partly due to him being home every afternoon to nap.
  4. Related to Point 2 – Certain discipline strategies (such as John Rosemond’s ticket system) are more effective when we don’t need to take into account the “Oh yeah, Adam is going to Grandma’s this afternoon, now what?” factor.
  5. We have more time together as a family, because DH doesn’t have to pick up Kid_2 after work from MIL’s place 2 times per week. Any mom or dad knows that getting home at, say, 4:30 is a lot different from getting home at 5:00 or later.
  6. I don’t have to deal with Kid_1’s “re-entry phase” after he gets home from Grandma’s house 3 times per week.
  7. Since MIL lives in town, we have done a lot of holidays and activities together in the past (which has had its pluses, to be sure). But now that we don’t have the option to pick up the phone and invite her over for things like the 4th of July, our family time feels more like family time. We are more relaxed, more spontaneous, and don’t need to worry about what “someone else” will think of our decisions.

Of course, there have been plenty of downsides to this conflict with my MIL, and we certainly don’t want her out of our lives completely. To that end, DH has met with a family therapist to see if we can resolve the ongoing issues that are between us (this process is still in its early stages).

MIL still sees Kid_1 and Kid_2 about once per week, because it is not our intent to “keep her” from seeing the boys. But we are very pleased with our deicision to pull the plug on the former babysitting schedule, not because we want to be mean to her or get back at her. We just have to do what’s best for our family, no matter how angry she becomes as a result.


4yo is a real piece of work lately July 13, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 2:14 pm
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Wow. I don’t know what has gotten into Kid_1 (almost 4 yrs old) over the last few days. Over the weekend we did some fun activities together as a family — a nice change of pace from the usual weekends where DH works on the house and yard while I care for the kids. During these family activites, and during other times as well, Kid_1 showed himself to be sour, whiney, argumentative, and uncooperative.

In a way I am glad that this occurred over the weekend, because DH had the opportunity to get the full picture about Kid_1’s behavior and attitude. The more DH and I are on the same page about things, the easier it is to make decisions together and to support each other.

This morning, Kid_1 has been a real piece of work, pushing buttons all through breakfast. He has four tickets for the whole day, and has lost two tickets already (if he loses all tickets, he is grounded to his room for the rest of the day). I am making an effort to be consistent about the rule that whining, arguing, and sassing are NOT ALLOWED; that is, if I give too many warnings, that just means that I’m allowing the behavior.

I find it is trickier to be consistent about matters of the attitude and tongue than it is to be consistent about things like “You must ask permission before going outside.” When I really think aobut it, I probably am too lenient with matters of the tongue and attitude. Well…. I will need to do some serious thinking about that!


Attitude boot-camp for 3yo June 22, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 1:49 pm
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My soon-to-be-4yo son has developed quite an attitude over the past few weeks. He has been on John Rosemond’s ticket system for quite some time, but I found it difficult to justify taking a ticket away for some of his more subtle, “gray area” behaviors. No doubt, DS figured this out a long time ago, and that’s why these behaviors have grown and grown.

 His “disturbing the peace” behaviors have increased lately, in that he repeats things loudly, over and over; goes on and on about various things; and acts squirrely around the house, doing things he knows he’s not really supposed to be doing. I should mention that the underlying motive for disturbing the peace appears to be a desire to get attention, not necessarily excess energy. Being well-versed in Rosemond’s philosophy, I believe that a child (who is not an an abusive or neglectful situation) who is vying for more attention probably needs LESS attention, an attitude adjustment, or both.

Other problems that have increased recently include outright disobedience to clear instructions, and blatantly sassy words or actions.

DH and I decided over the weekend that something had to be done. After DH headed off to work this morning, I decided that any time he did something that I don’t like, he would be immediately sent to rest in bed for five minutes. (Tickets will still be used for blatant things like disobeying an instruction.) Behaviors I have been targeting include any type of sassiness, arguing, or whining, as well as anything that disturbs the peace.

It has been an amazing experience already. I feel empowered to calmly declare any type of annoying behavior to be unacceptable. Sending him to lie down for 5 minutes at the first sign of unacceptable behavior has a completely different effect than “yada yada” discipline (saying things like “please stop that,” “please be nice,” and so on). I also have to say that ignoring certain behaviors has not been an effective strategy, since the behaviors have steadily increased to out-of-control levels.

Less than 2 hours into our day, DS is already much more pleasant to be around (and, I would say, he appears happier and calmer as well). He is simply not allowed to be sassy, to argue, to disobey, and so on. I am so thankful to John Rosemond for teaching DH and me that we have every right to expect pleasant behavior from our son. Just because it’s “normal” for a 3yo to display these behaviors and attitudes doesn’t mean that we should sit back and accept it!



I love tickets March 18, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 4:18 pm
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Tickets are a wonderful thing. They give me leverage so that when I decide it’s time to address a certain issue, I don’t fall into the yada-yada-yada trap, wherein I remind my son of something a dozen times a day, to no avail.

When it comes to my son’s age (3.5 years), I just don’t buy into the mindset that you have to remind your kid of something a thousand times before it sinks in. I believe that if it is something realistic and age appropriate, a child is quite likely to comply if s/he is properly compelled to do so.


3yo lost all 3 tickets by 1 p.m. March 17, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 8:38 pm
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By 1:00 p.m. today, Adam had lost all of his tickets. In each case, he went ahead and did something he was told not to do, or outright did not follow directions. As a result, I had to call my MIL and tell her that Adam could not come over for the afternoon, as we had planned. To her credit, she was very understanding and even supportive. Of course, she may not have been so supportive if she realized what the consequence for losing all tickets actually is (rest of the day in his room with no toys).