Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Parenting class night four

I attended night four of my parenting class without Matt. We decided, after the stress of the issues with the ipods that I would go alone and Matt and the girls would relax at home.

The class was okay, though the most frustrating one thus far. As I learned, the hard way, with the other parenting class I attended, the material won't 100% fit you or your family. This week the instructor brought up the idea of using sticker charts for improving behaviors and it definitely made me uneasy. I am seeing a definite improvement in Iris through the use of what we term "praise" (but, in action, looks more like noticing and appreciating), so I am comfortable with that kind of positive reinforcement. Not so much on basically what will amount to bribery.

In addition to the sticker chart we did discuss what things are children are given freely that are more privileges than rights and how kids can work to earn those instead. For instance, something I started with the girls already is that they have to have teeth brushed, hair brushed, gone potty and gotten dressed before they can play with toys or watch tv in the morning. Tv and toys in the morning are privileges they work for by doing X,Y and Z first. We also do this at night with the girls cleaning their playroom, so I feel like we are pretty much on track with that.

We also talked about the idea of ignoring certain undesirable behaviors in our children to help them go away. One of the big ones in our family is Iris calls names. I am already seeing the ignoring work in that if Iris starts to call me names or say she hates me or I am mean, I tell her I am going to ignore her if she is going to talk to me that way and then I do. I stop engaging her and move on with what I am doing. It seems to have already made the times she spews her mean words all over me shorter in duration. Iris is a kid who just can't stop herself from saying every mean thing she can when she gets even the least bit annoyed, so I find this tactic not only teaching her a lesson, but protecting my sanity, as well. It's definitely working better than the hundreds of times I've gotten down and said "why are you calling me names? are you angry? what is going on?" etc etc ad nauseum. Ignore, done, move on.

I have found that the class, like life, is not populated solely with "AP" parents. I was an outsider of a discussion on putting kids to bed, the group was chatting about how they "wouldn't stand for" laying in bed with their kid to help them go to sleep. I kept wanting to offer another view on the situation, but kept my mouth shut.

The instructor passed out Anger Logs for everyone in the class, as well. It is a way for us to write down times that our anger has gotten the better of us and allows us to look more in to it. You know what the Anger Log has done for me? Made my be perfectly conscious of my anger so that I do NOT have to fill the log in. Ha! Hey, at least it is working, right? Along that note I just got an ebook from the library called Love and Anger that I am quite eager to read.

After class I sat with the instructor for half an hour and we discussed the whole sticker chart thing more in depth. I explained how uneasy it made me to bribe my kids to do what I wanted them to. She had some great ideas for me on how to make that particular idea work for us. It started with using it for something that was a really serious deal in our family that needed to stop. For my girls it's the hitting/pushing/kicking/pulling, mostly from Iris's end. I decided that due to the fact nothing else we've tried has eliminated it, that good old fashioned bribery wouldn't be the worst idea ever. Especially since something like that just has got to stop. We are still trying to figure out how that would look in our family, the sticker chart and the carrying out of the stickers and all of that, so we haven't made a decision either way yet.

I am looking forward to next week when start talking about helping children regulate their emotions and effective communication skills (at least, those were the two chapters we had to read in our book).


  1. As a passionate AP, I know it can suck to feel like you have the answer... and that the people around you wouldn't HEAR it even if you offered it. They would, quite possibly, just argue. And what would that solve?

    As for working the stickers to fit you & yours, what if you simply put a sticker on a wall calendar for each day when no one hit anyone else or whatever you choose? Just a thought.

  2. I had this big long response written & it went kablooey.

    In short: we use sticker charts as a visual marker to the children (4 of them 6 & younger) of their progress. Sticker charts are used for skills that are both difficult for the child to master and necessary for life. Things like using the toilet, reading on one's own, and trying new foods (do you read dooce.com? My stepson makes Leta look like a gourmand).

  3. Thank you both for your comments and ideas! I have taken some time and come up with something I *think* will work. We'll see. I am really eager to see if they even respond to it, but the "treats" are some rockin' Barbie stuff, which is pretty much the ultimate in our house right now.


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