positive reinforcement

Parker and I have been struggling for the last month or so. I don't like it when I find myself arguing with him or correcting his every move or giving him endless timeouts. I know parenting is not cut-and-dried, but my hope is that simplifying with positive reinforcement will be a good match for us.

Parker is a good kid. He isn't one for being blatantly naughty nor the type to let his curiosity get the better of him. But he is stubborn. He likes to do things on his own time, in his own way. And lately he has added a little touch of rudeness on the side. This is where I struggle. Do I really want to do the whole timeout dance every time he glares at me or points a finger or says "never" when I ask him to do something?

Our focus started turning all too negative. So this weekend I made up a new system based on a yes or no principle. If I see him doing something that is yes worthy (going to the bathroom on his own, helping Matilda, saying "have a nice day" to the mailman, eating at the table, etc.) then he gets to put something (e.g., coins) in the yes jar. If I see him doing something no worthy then something gets taken out of the yes and put into the no. I have nearly eliminated the arguing because all I have to say is "that was a yes" or "that was a no". Now I feel like I am teaching him - and he is interested in learning - appropriate behavior instead of getting frustrated with it.

The added elements to the system include earning small rewards when he reaches a line on the back of the jar such as iPad time, a piece of candy, or a small toy. And on the no jar, he gets extra timeouts, or toys taken away if he reaches a line on the back. As the yes jar fills up, he will earn the possibility of buying a new toy or book or having a movie date. It has only been a few days, but I am already seeing a huge improvement and better understanding of what behavior is acceptable in our home.

Here is how you can make your own:
    Step 1: find some containers (I found these at Target a while ago)
    Step 2: empty the containers
    Step 3: decorate to your taste (I used some fun duct tape)
    Step 4: decide what language you want to use (yes, no, wrong, right, naughty, nice, etc.) and write it
                  out on the container
    Step 5: cut strips of duct tape and create smaller reward goals on the back of each container
    Step 6: explain the system to your child and start implementing with consistency 

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