Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Queen of Charts

The age old question/debate...what exactly is the best way to mold your child's behavior into something socially acceptable...or at least into something that doesn't leave you banging your head against the wall after a long day of battling a toddlers' will?

At our house, I've become "all about the CHARTS"!

We resurrected the idea of the "Potty Chart" that seemed to work well with Reese and have been using it for Drue. She just flat out hated using the potty. I knew she was ready, but would act as though you were leading her to a guillotine rather than simply to our porcelain friend. She really was quite fascinated with the handmade chart I whipped up for her one day. And truly draws enjoyment from meticulously placing a sticker on it with her chubby little fingers.

Of course, I don't think the purpose has entirely set in for her yet. The other day after she awakened in a wet bed after being put down for nap sans pullup...she excitedly stated, "Mommy, I get to put a sticker on my potty chart!". To which I had to burst her little bubble and inform her we only use stickers when we tee tee in the appropriate receptacle.

The aspect of child rearing that is most exhausting and frustrating to me right now is the blasted bedtime routine. Tate is a little dreamboat and drifts off into sweet slumber without so much as a whimper after we read our story. God bless you little one.

And God bless the other two little dears also, who honestly make me choose to chew on shards of glass rather than put them down for bed some nights. I always imagined it being such a special time to be cherished. Me cuddling with my girls, tickling their arms and around their ears like my mom used to do, and whispering about our hopes and our dreams together until their little eyes fluttered closed and I would give them one last peck on the forehead as I pulled their covers up to their chins.

Not them falling to absolute pieces with just the mere mention of bed (and yes, I do warn them it's coming..."2 more stories til bedtime girls"). Thus begins the tiresome task of actually getting them up the stairs, since both sets of their legs are rendered useless past 8pm. Getting them to potty, brush their teeth, and lay down in their beds without the use of restraints (which we've never used mind you just in case you were starting to worry). What is getting me right now is the whining and crying. I'm not real patient with that at anytime of day but especially at the end of the day when all my reserves are spent and I ache to crawl into my bed and pretend to read a magazine before my own eyes slowly close.

I decided to do something about it this week. Reese is about to start preschool and they absolutely MUST have a bedtime routine that leaves us all happily content and not ready to pull every last hair out of our heads. I just hate for the last thing that comes out of our mouths to them at night is the threat of corporal punishment if they don't settle down and go-to-SLEEP!

So I made a "Good Girl Night Night Chart". Reese picked out Little Mermaid stickers to adorn her chart. My pessimistic attitude sort of felt sorry for her as she picked them out because I figured it would be a long time before she ever got to put one on her chart. I set down the ground rules. She had to go to bed willingly, without tears, and without a negative attitude. She felt up for the challenge. It was even her idea to put an "X" in the box if she didn't go to bed acceptably. I feel that may be a tad harsh yet.

Last night we implemented the new system and it worked! Like. A. Charm. She cheerfully chose a beautiful sticker of Ariel and Eric embracing and went to sleep without a peep.

The ironic part of all of this is when they fill up a chart with stickers they get...nothing. Nothing at all. I never explained to them that part of the chart. The big incentive at the end that works so well for some. They simply get enjoyment out of putting the stickers on and when a chart fills up, I make a new one. Elementary, my dear.

Of course, tonight, our second night of implementation went straight down the tubes. David put them to bed (ahem, I'll hold my tongue there) and I could hear Reese squalling about something all the way downstairs. I marched up, grabbed her chart from her room, went bounding across the hall, and demanded to know how a sticker got put on for this evening because it was coming right back off! Hmmmpppfffff.

I've decided to test a theory of mine about my dear husband and I will be putting them to bed tomorrow night. Should my theory prove correct, I believe I will use my knowledge to my advantage and negotiate a new outfit or two out of the deal.

Yesterday I had a very successful trip to the grocery store with all three of them. (Yes, to the same grocery store that was the scene of what I'll refer to as "the spectacle" last week...I was tempted to go to an altogether different store to save face, but I only feel at ease in my grocery store, where I know where everything is, and can stealthily slip in and out with my desired purchases in no time flat, with, or without a screaming toddler under my arm). After I raved to the children about how excellently they behaved, Reese suggested, "Hey Mommy, you should make a chart for us for going to the grocery store! ".

Back to the drawing board...literally.

2 comments:

David said...

Maybe I need a "put the kids to bed without makeing them scream chart"...I'm thinking superman or nija stickers...and yes I do want a reward when it is filled up!

Margo said...

That's hilarious David! The the guy a chart Kristen. :-) LOL

This was a great post!

We do charts around here too. Stephens latest is a "real food" chart. His diet stinks! We're trying to change that.

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