It all started when this happened:
Well, no. That’s not actually correct. This happening was really just the straw that broke the camel’s back. (No that is not a fixable problem you see up there!)
We were in a bad way around here. BAD. We found the word “ignore,” showing up with increasing frequency in our conversations. As in “Please don’t just completely IGNORE me!” I felt like the teacher on Peanuts. When I spoke did they just hear a muffled “Wah waaaah, wah wah wah waaaaah?”
We found the stress level in our house majorly on the rise. Nothing was working. For whatever reason the discipline, the teaching, the begging… felt like it was all going to a big, fat NOWHERE. And frankly, I think the kids were becoming as frustrated with us as we were of them.
Then one night we were reading The Friend when I saw this inspired idea for a Conference Concession Stand. The idea is simple… good behavior gets you a ticket, tickets are redeemable for goodies at the kitchen table concession stand come Conference Weekend. Genius! Just what we needed! Something positive and fun to shake things up and break the bad cycle of rotten behavior and rotten reactive parenting that we were somehow stuck in!
We held an FHE to introduce the boys to their new Conference Concession Jars. We opened with THIS game (great object lesson for how quickly we need them to respond when we ask them to do something!) used THIS song, THIS scripture, and the story from THIS lesson (which we discussed shows us that parents ask kids to do things out of LOVE… to keep them safe and help them be happy!) We had a nice chat about the feeling in our home as of late… and asked what suggestions they had for improvement. We let them tell us what we could do better, and we told them what they could do too. We all promised to work on those things so that the peace and happiness of our home could be restored.
The spirit in our home was already improving, and then we introduced the Jars (with their inherent program). Wow! They were so excited! Tickets are currently being rewarded when a child:
-Obeys quickly and happily!
-Remembers to do something withOUT being asked. (We’ve sure reached the point where I feel like they should be remembering certain things without my constant reminders. Raise your hand if you hate feeling like a nag!)
-Shows respect and love and care for those around them.
Tickets can also be taken away.
We’ve been on the program now for 2 and 1/2 weeks, and I tell you what! It’s workin’! Hallelujah! The first day I kid you not I was raising PERFECT children. It was freaky… and fantastic! Since then we’ve had a few bumps in the road, but mostly it’s been great.
I would really like my children to do the right thing because it’s right and not because they are expecting a reward. And yet? I also believe in positive reinforcement. I think it’s good that we can do little programs like this and give rewards in an effort to help them create good patterns and breaks bad habits. I honestly think they had just created a bad habit of disobedience. Sometimes it was like they didn’t even MEAN it… it was just what they DID. You know??? I also think that what we were doing as parents wasn’t working for them, and it was creating lots of frustration which probably lead to even worse parenting and unsurprisingly… even worse behavior. We all needed to just snap out of it! And I think this Conference Concession thing has really, really helped.
One afternoon when contemplating this conundrum: How do I get my kids to behave without rewards??? THIS scripture came to mind, and I remembered that the very best parent (the one we are all striving to be like) gives rewards too, although of a different nature. This A) took away my guilt for having to rely on things like this occasionally, and B) reminded me that as the spirit in our home improved I had a wonderful opportunity to point out THOSE blessings… the ones totally unrelated to tickets… the ones that come from our Heavenly Father as a result of the boys obeying the commandment to honor their father and mother.
So along with giving tickets I try to point out how good our home feels when there is less contention…. how happy we are… how much love we feel… the trust they are earning, etc. The hope is that when this is all over, they will still want to continue their good behavior based on receiving those blessings that are even more wonderful than a treat at Conference time. And if nothing else? I hope we will have at least broken some of those bad habits and replaced them with good ones! Righteousness will come in it’s time… for now… good behavior alone is sometimes acceptable. (Thank you President McNabb!)
Any thoughts on other ways to teach my children to do the right thing merely because it is right, and not with any expectation of reward??? I’m all ears!!!