Monday, November 3, 2008

It's all about the Happy Points....

In my quest to improve my mothering skills, I read every parenting magazine I can get my hands on. The magazines are full of great tips, recipes, advice on how to handle certain behaviors, take care of yourself as a mom and how to nurture your marriage.

My biggest challenge with Cole and Bella remains the same....getting them to do the things I want them to do without having to nag. And I'm not talking about difficult, impossible things for a 4 yr old to do, like wash the family car by themselves or mow the lawn. I'm talking about things that are expected of any child, like using good manners, communicating appropriately with one another, bringing me their dishes after they're done with a meal, cleaning up their toys without having to be asked, etc. I've done them a huge disservice by always doing some of those things for them, like cleaning up their toys because I can do it faster and I'm tired of fighting with them about it. They find every excuse in the book to avoid helping or doing something they should be doing...."but Cole's not helping", "I didn't make that mess, someone else did", "my leg hurts so I need to rest", "but it's Thursday" (I have no idea how they think that even comes close to qualifying as a valid excuse....I counter back with "well, God made Sunday as a day of rest, not Thursday, so please go pick your toys up").

I was reading one of these parenting magazines a few weeks ago and one mom shared an idea she was using with her children to encourage more positive behaviors...a sticker chart! But she called it a happy chart or something like that. Her child would earn 1 happy point (in the form of a sticker) for every time she did something positive. Once her child had 20 happy points (20 stickers) on the chart, she would take her child to the store to pick out a small toy. And she also solved the "I want's" by telling her child everytime she was in a store and said "I want that", the mother would say "once you have 20 points, we'll come back and get that". That's the other problem I have with Cole and Bella...their sense of entitlement. They want everything they see and they want it now. It gets so tiring....

So I decided to borrow this woman's idea because it just seemed so clever....well, and not having to fight with the kids over every little thing was enticing too. I told them about my plan and they were all for it. We sat down and made our happy charts...they both got to pick out which color they wanted for their chart and they got to color it and write their name on it. Bella decided she wanted Princess stickers to use for her points and Cole wanted Spiderman stickers.

From that point on, every time I saw them doing something positive, I told them they had just earned a happy point. After awhile, they were finally starting to get the idea....they were totally buying it! And what was even greater was I didn't have to nag anymore....if they didn't do what I asked the first time, I'd just say "it's too bad you don't want to clean your toys up because this would be a wonderful opportunity for you to earn another happy point". I almost died of shock the other day when that worked!!

Now I'm hearing things like, "Mommy, can I please have some more ketchup? Did you notice I used my manners? Do I get a happy point for that?" or "Mommy, I'm bringing my dishes to the sink...can I have a happy point?"

But there are still some things we need to work on, like Bella sleeping in her own bed at night, instead of climbing into our bed and getting them to stop fighting like cats and dogs. That's the ONE thing I really wish would've/could've been resolved with this system. I know siblings fight but these two go at it every minute of the day. And most of it's silly things...."Cole's sitting on my part of the sofa" (I didn't realize we had assigned seating on the sofas), "Bella's looking at me" (perhaps if I blind-folded her that would prevent this problem), "Cole's breathing again" (when Bella complained about this to me, I asked her "and your problem with him breathing is....?", she replied, "I just don't like it when he breathes"....oh, okay, well, let's put on time-out for breathing then).

Oh well, we'll do this in baby steps I suppose. I must be appreciative of the things they've accomplished so far using this Happy Points system. They are being more helpful and using manners, even if it isn't with one another. I wonder if this system would work with would a grown man respond to getting Happy Points for putting his own clothes in the laundry basket and not on the floor, putting his dishes in the sink, and not leaving his stuff all over the house for me to pick up?? And what on earth would I give him as a reward for earning 20 Happy Points? I have a feeling he and I would be on entirely different pages in answering that question. Maybe he'd settle for me cooking his favorite dinner of baby back ribs and corn on the cob....that's got to be as good as sex, right?


Michele S said...

Good going on the happy points! Sounds great!

Okay, I'm just a little, okay, A LOT freaked out by the fact you had two kids in the EXACT SAME costumes as two of MY kids.

(Insert Twilight Zone music.)

Cathy said...

Thank you for this one. It's a wonderful idea. I'll be sure to try this one in the future.

And your hubby? His not the only one. So is mine and i"m sure the others too. :)

Have a great week ahead!

Amy said...

You've inspired me with the charts. I've been thinking about it off and on and reading your outcome, we are going to start this asap. I hope we see some progress! btw I love reading your blog, I almost feel normal:)

Tara @ Feels like home said...

It sounds like the Happy Points are really working for you.

Do you feel like you're buying their good behavior? My daughter is too little for this sort of thing, so I don't have any experience with it. Does the Happy Points system feel authentic, like they're learning what to do or does it feel like they're behaving just to get the goods? (Please understand that I'm asking genuinely and not criticizing your choices.)

Cant Hardly Wait said...

It sounds to me like you're being a fantastic parent. Because you know, I am the queen of parenting and anyone sub par to me is a minion.

I use the Thursday excuse, too. Sometimes even when it's not Thursday.

Lana said...

When I had custody of 3 of my nephews for 6 months, on top of my own two, I did a similar chart. It's AMAZING how well it worked! Making kids realise they ARE accountable for their actions rocks!

With 2 kids, it didn't seem to "matter" as much as it did with five. Definatley helps the sanity too!

I literally "laughed out loud" about the assigned couch seating. Again, when I had my nephews, they HAD to sit in certain spots to keep one from looking at the other, or breathing, etc.

A few people rolled their eyes at me when they saw the charts. I am SO happy you posted about this! Now I know I did the right thing, seeing that someone else did it/is doing it too!

Doré said...

What a good idea. I'll have to keep it in mind for when Brayden gets a little older. Too bad he wouldn't understand it now cause he is in desperate need of some happy points. I think he has started with the terrible 2's... at 15 months! We have a long road ahead of us!

christine said...

Sounds like it is working as well for you as the token system works for me at my house!! My dd's therapist said if my kids fight to have them do something nice for the other sibling or if it is during a chore then they need to finish the other siblings chore . These work well for us.

twinmama said...

Ha! I totally went there using the Happy Points with my you think he would go for it?

When I was in elementary school, one of my teachers did "The Bean Jar". As a class when we behaved and worked together, she would put so many beans into a jar (or take some out if we were bad.) When we hit the designated line marked on the top of the jar, then we were able to have a class party or field trip. Maybe this would be another way to get the kids to stop fighting and work together.

Or, if you had a way to take stickers away, you could tell the kids they will LOSE stickers if they fight with each other. Just a thought.

This is a great idea and when my girls are a tad bit older, I think we will have to try this out!

Great post!

BTW - I tagged you for a meme. Don't feel obligated to do it!

Woman in Training said...

What a great idea! I think just using the word happy might set the tone at just the right time.

LOL - try it with Tim & let us know if it works!

I figure that if the children are alive when my husband gets home at the end of the day, I've done my job.

----Roseanne Barr

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