She Says… Sweet Reward

Remember Owen’s recurring issue of not always being so gentle with his friends (aka the not terribly uncommon phenomenon of my generally well-mannered child attacking his friends)? And that simple little sticker chart we instituted for successful school days without an altercation?

Well, it worked beautifully. Stickers are an amazing motivator for 2 year olds. Or, my two year old, at least.

Owen was SO PROUD when he asked his teachers at the end of the day, “Do I get a sticker?” and he knew the answer when he had a little lapse in  memory and forgot what “gentle hands” really meant. The last month or so wasn’t perfect, but the chart and the promise of a sticker was a very strong motivator for good behavior.

As we got closer to the end, Benjamin and I made a big deal of saying, “Oh, the chart is almost filled! When you get to the end you’ll get a really special treat.”. We had no idea how long it would take him to fill up the chart, and really had no special treat in mind, but I figured I’d play it by ear and let Owen help pick the reward. As the chart filled up, Owen would guess, “I think it’s an airplane” or “It’s a bear. Is it a bear?”. Adorable.

To be honest, he has enough toys and I do my best to limit crap accrual, so when he finally filled the chart, I gave him a choice. We could take a walk to our local toy store and pick out a small toy OR we could go out for ice cream. His choice.

The fact that he chose ice cream so quickly and with such glee just goes to show you how rare treats like that are around here :)  I was so glad that was his choice… I was craving some myself!

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So last Saturday we headed to the local Pinkberry for a celebrating of gentle hands. Now before you get all up on my case for giving him the “healthy” ice cream instead of a splurge, it was based largely on the fact that Pinkberry frozen yogurt (and most soft-serve that comes out of a dispenser rather than a carton) is gluten free. As are many of the toppings. Due to Benjamin’s (and possibly Owen’s) celiac disease, getting ice cream scooped at a normal ice cream place is a breeding ground for cross contamination (if the scooper touches a cone and then goes in the ice cream carton, or touches a kind of ice cream with gluten in it, there is a good chance there’s gluten getting in our order, even if we order a gluten-free ice cream flavor and a cup). And I knew how much he would love choosing his toppings (and they use separate spoons for every topping, so although the risk of cross-contamination with toppings still exists, I felt comfortable letting him pick fruit or M&Ms as his toppings).

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It was AWESOME.

He had a blast. And savored every bite of that delicious ice cream. As did Benjamin and I.

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So now the question is… do we start another sticker chart or has it done its job? The jury is still out. He still needs some reminders about using gentle hands at school (and the last few days his teeth have been bothering him as his 3 year molars are coming in and he’s been threatening to bite again — ugh!), but I don’t want to over-do the sticker thing. I also want to reserve the next sticker chart for our big boy bed transition and any “bad” behaviors that may come from that transition.

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7 responses to “She Says… Sweet Reward

  1. My opinion is if you find something that works, stick with it. Eventually yes, it may wear off and not be as effective, but use it while you can. Worst possible thing is it’s not as “cool” when you do the big-boy-bed transition, but best case he keeps up with the gentle hands. I use sticker charts for my classroom all year long (I teach kindergarten) and it works. As long as the kiddos get to have some say in the reward, it hasn’t lost effectiveness yet (knock on wood!!).

  2. Yes I think you should keep it up. Eventually, the sticker system might naturally disappear when he’s mastered the “gentle hands” without thinking and it might reinforce that it’s an ongoing skill. I guess it can’t hurt to keep it up for a little while to see?

  3. Smart ladies, @Sarah and @Angie. Yesterday at school he needed some reminders about gentle hands (and, ahem, gentle TEETH), so we’re going to keep the momentum going with another sticker chart. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

  4. I’m excited to see post re big bed transitions as that is when our daughters great sleeping patterns fell totally out of whack! That was about 5 months ago. She just transitioned into her actual big girl bed rather than toddler daybed last week and so I’m hoping to correct some of the issues we’ve been facing. I’m too tired to do any more research (likely from being woken up at least once a night) so I’m banking on the blogs I read to help me out LOL

  5. @Natalie, Oh no! I don’t want to hear that :) I’ll be sure to keep you posted. The change is coming soon.

  6. I have to wonder, given the recent link-backs to old posts (which are plentiful!), if you’re trying to generate traffic for monetary gain? Get Off My Internets posted something similar to this sentiment, and it got me thinking. Thanks!

  7. @Anon, No real reason for the linkbacks recently except that I think it makes it easier for new readers to find out more about what’s been going on if they are not reading every day. Unfortunately I have not had the time to figure out how to make money off of this blog, as I have a full time job and a child and don’t plan to change that any time soon. That said, if I ever do change the structure of the blog to make a little spare change, I would not think there was anything wrong with that, as I do devote quite a bit of time to writing.

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