A month or two ago, John and I started to notice that Henry was having some obedience troubles. It seemed he preferred to negotiate with us rather than just do what we asked him to do (I'm sure he's not the only 3-year old like this :) We also found ourselves repeating our requests much more often than we'd like and quite frankly, we were getting sick of it!
Enter the happy and sad face jars.
John and I sat down together one night to lay out a behavior plan for Henry. Our main objective with this plan was to help Henry to learn how to obey the FIRST TIME, without complaining.
Here's what we came up with:
- 2 jars: a happy face jar & a sad face jar.
- Each jar starts with 10 popsicle sticks in it. When Henry obeys the first time (or does something generally positive) he gets to move a stick from the sad face jar to the happy face jar. The sad face jar sticks are necessary so that we don't have to worry about negative numbers...that would get complicated :)
- On the other side of the coin, if he doesn't obey the first time or he complains and throws a fit even while obeying, he has to move a stick from the happy face jar to the sad face jar.
- Once all of the sticks are in the happy face jar, he earns a letter of his name. Once he has spelled his entire name he gets a big reward!
So far he has spelled his name twice. We outsourced his rewards to the grandparents, which actually worked out really well! He spent the night with my parents the first time and the second time he went out to dinner and ice cream with Grandpa Bob & Grandma Sharon and then spent the night with them!
When we first started this plan, we thought we would let him earn a show on netflix for each letter of his name that he earned. It quickly became apparent, however, that this was not a good idea. The letter itself seemed motivating enough, and watching less netflix is always a good thing, so we just left off those additional rewards.
Our little system seems to be pretty motivating for Henry. He's getting pretty good at obeying the first time, and his attitude seems to be improving even when we ask him to do something he doesn't want to do. Overall a pretty good success, I think.
Now when Charlie throws his tantrums (which he's pretty inclined to do these days, unfortunately) Henry likes to tell me that Charlie needs some sticks too :)
So, for what it's worth, that's the latest on the behavior training front around here. No one else will probably care, but I know someday I'll enjoy reminiscing about these sorts of things :)