This blog is just about my life and mostly revolves around my son, Jamie. This blog is a combination of everything, whether it may be a new recipe I tried, a good freebie I found, something funny Jamie said, or feelings I'm having about life in general. There's little rhyme or reason. I'll never win any blogging awards, but I enjoy writing about our lives and I mostly do it for my son. It's so easy to forget moments over the years. I've got all these little tidbits of our life in print and I hope that someday Jamie can enjoy them.

I called this blog Mother of Life, Mother of Loss because of my issues with pregnancy loss and the joy of finally bringing this wonderful person into the world. Truly, I feel the pains of loss, but you won't see too much of that here. I am blessed and I am, above all else, a mother of life.

After all the years of infertility and loss, Matthew and I were blessed with a surprise pregnancy. We were pregnant with twins, but unfortunately, Baby A could not stay with us. Baby B grew into a healthy and happy baby girl that we named Bella Marie. We are so blessed to have two beautiful children.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Reward Charts

It took longer than I wanted, but we started Jamie's new reward charts Monday. The main one consists of seven behaviors he needs improvement on. There's a square for each day of the week. Each day that he does well on these he gets a sticker. The reason it took me so long is that I couldn't really come up with a clear way to judge these. For example, if he didn't do something I told him to in the morning, but was a perfect angel for the remainder of the day, should he get a sticker or not? How subjective should this be? Originally I had a chart for each part of the day, but it was too long and complicated. I thought it would be overwhelming and thought I had to find a way to simplify things. The new chart is a little subjective, but I've worked out the details in my mind to keep things constant. On matters such as fussing, if he begins to fuss I warn him that he will not get a sticker on his chart if he fusses and if he ceases, then he still gets the sticker. However, on more serious issues, like hitting, he loses the sticker if he hits at all. Each behavior is illustrated with a picture and words. There is an empty square for each day of the week. The behaviors I listed on the chart are...

1. Share and Play Nice
2. No Hitting or Kicking
3. Do What Mommy & Daddy Say
4. Dress Myself
5. Did Not Pee My Pants
6. Put My Toys Away
7. No Whining or Fussing

In conjunction with the chart is another sticker chart. I wanted a way to reward him, but again had difficulty with the typical chart's subjectivity. Most sites I visited online suggested a reward at the end of the month. How do you decide if the child has been "good enough" to deserve the reward? How many missing stickers justifies denial of the reward? If you don't give the reward are you setting your child up for failure? If you give them a reward even though they have not met your expectations are you setting them up for failure? I don't know, so I came up with what I think is a good solution. The second chart is actually train chart that has twenty-four spaces for stickers. At the end of the track is the picture of a present. Each day that he is able to put a sticker on all seven spaces of his reward chart, he gets to put a sticker on the train chart. At the end of the week, he also gets a sticker for each row that is filled with stickers. At first I wasn't sure if this would be viable. Every kid is going to mess up sometimes, right? I think the point is to keep them trying to do their best. Yesterday, he got three frowning faces (I put a frown in the spot if he doesn't get a sticker). Today he was much more aware of his behavior throughout the day. He peed in his pants four times yesterday and today he didn't pee in his pants at all. Today he did not get any frowning faces at all. He gets his first sticker on the train. The other thing I like about the train chart is that it is a long term goal. He can see himself reaching it, but he has to work hard to achieve it.

The third chart is just to get him more interested in learning. He's always been the type of child that learns really fast. He's very bright. The catch is that he only learns what interests him, not what you might want to teach him. He's starting Kindergarten in the fall and there are things he should know by now that he does not. Up until a few weeks ago we couldn't make him understand middle and last names. He refused to even entertain the idea that there was more to his name than "Jamie". It took awhile, but he's finally got it. The point of the third chart is to make him more interested in what we want to teach him. We'll change this chart out with a new skill when he masters the current skill. There are two rows with five blocks each for stickers. The first row is illustrated with a boys face talking and the second row is illustrated with a boy writing. The current chart has our address written at the top. When he can recite his address from memory, he gets a sticker on the first row. When he can write his address from memory, he'll get a sticker on the second row. He can earn one sticker per day. He can earn a small prize for filling up either row, or two for filling both. This prize will be small. He'll get to pick out one item at the Dollar Store. We don't want to go overboard with prizes around here.

I have only two concerns. One is that it's possible we are conditioning him to believe he should get a prize every time he does what he is supposed to do. Two is that he might get bored of the charts after awhile and they will no longer be effective. I've read a lot and there are varying opinions on the subject. I'm just going to have to go with my gut and say that this method is right for Jamie. I don't know if it's right for any other child, but I'm relatively certain it is for mine. I'll let you know how it's going as we see what progress he makes.

In case you might be wondering, Matthew and I have been following a time out "routine" very closely. We give him 4 minutes, counted down by the kitchen timer. He gets two warnings before he is given time out. Since we have both gotten on the same page, giving this more consistency, he has responded very well and time out is not necessary nearly as often as it was when it was primarily me doling it out.

2 Remarks:

Ashley March 25, 2009 at 8:12 AM  

I would love to see pictures of these charts if at all possible...I'm thinking Hunter might need one as well...

Laura March 25, 2009 at 10:20 PM  

Sure, I'll take some pictures in a bit. I didn't post them because I got the pictures online and I don't know all the credits for them. I was just getting them for myself.