It’s no secret that Owen has some issues with using gentle hands (even when it comes from a place of love… remember his issues with over-hugging here and here?). Mostly with his friends at school, but Benjamin, Schnitzel and I are not immune to it at home either. Nothing out of the ordinary for a two year old, but I knew even when he was in the womb that he was going to be a very active kid. A very physical kid. A motor-driven, kinesthetic learner. He is also sweet and gentle and hilarious and silly and insanely smart and emotionally intelligent… it’s part of the whole package, so I’ll take it. Sometimes I think he just forgets that kicking and smacking and pushing are NOT OK.
The past few weeks have been riddled with stories from daycare that Owen had to be reminded to use gentle hands with his friends (and one teacher). On Wednesday we even had to sign an official “incident report” because Owen hit a friend across the face with a toy he had just grabbed from him and it really hurt him. Oy. I’ve discussed each situation with the teachers and they don’t think it’s anything out of the ordinary, Owen is just a rough kid who doesn’t realize his own strength and who is still working on communicating emotions with words rather than actions. He is beginning to understand the cause-and-effect of hitting a friend = tears = teacher comforting the other friend = it was his fault and he should make sure the friend is ok. Sort of. It’s beginning to sink in.
The past few weeks have also been riddled with illness and ear infections and schedule changes and holidays and too much family and not enough sleep… and I know from experience that these outbursts usually happen when Owen’s own body is in pain. So I get where it’s coming from. Sort of. I’m trying to get where it’s coming from.
The last few days I’ve tried a “reminder” system. We “remind” Owen at drop-off in the morning that we really want to hear a good report from his teacher that he used gentle hands all day, with everyone. It has had spotty results. (Read: relatively ineffective, despite the enthusiastic nodding we get from Owen in the morning).
So today we’re instituting something new. A sticker chart.
If I had enough free time I would create you a cutesy printable, but I’m at work today scrambling to catch up from the holidays, so I did a quick Google and found some pretty cute, free, downloadable ones at stickersandcharts.com. I printed the smiley one and the dinosaur one and I’m going to let Owen choose which one he’d like to be his “Gentle Hands Chart”.
Let’s see if this does the trick. He seemed pretty excited about the idea this morning, so we’ll see if a sticker is incentive enough to keep him from manhandling/accosting his classmates and teachers.
Have sticker charts worked for you/your kid(s) in the past? What else works as incentive? Any tips for instituting this?