When my youngest son turned into a maniacal toddler who would bite, pull hair, scream and rage all over the house, I knew I was in for trouble if I didn’t look for some disciplinary alternatives, particularly since I adamantly refused to spank my children (never have, never will and, as a former child of corporal punishment, I do not see the logic in it). So I turned to “positive reinforcement”; it was a practice I was already familiar with having worked with my younger brother who had a learning disability and ADHD, but I wasn’t very conscious of it. I bought one book, read the gist of it and was on my way to creating special star charts and changing my vocabulary. I also designated a spot in the house with a”thinking” couch (rather than a “time-out” spot) where my boys could reflect on their actions. I even used relaxing methods such as breathing exercises, to teach my youngest how to calm down through focused breathing.
I know it probably sounds crazy and hippy-like to some of you, but hey, it worked, and to this day, when his anger starts to get the best of him, I tell him to breath. And he breathes. And I’m sure you have to do the same thing every now and then….bet it doesn’t sound too crazy anymore, huh?
Positive reinforcement is basically “catching” your child doing something you want them to do and rewarding it. The child gets attention and reward as positive reinforcement for doing the right thing emphasizing that they should repeat that particular behavior. If you have ever trained a dog, this will sound familiar to you. The problem with all of this though, that I have noticed as an educator in the preschool classroom, elementary and even college classrooms, is that parents have taken this method and over indulged their children in it and, in effect, have created praise junkies who are incapable of doing anything without some sort of recognition (for example, today if you play a sport on a team, it doesn’t matter if you sucked or not, you still get a fricken trophy…so pick all the grass you want hunny, you’ll still be a winner!) I see this in my college students when they question how I could have possibly given them a particular grade….the notion of EARNING the grade has never crossed their mind.
In any case, I have tried my best, as I stumble through parenthood, to create a balance with my boys teaching them to work hard and earn their way while still providing them with praise and recognition when they make smart choices or have great accomplishments. Now, if I tell them to clean the bathroom and they do a half-assed job, they’re not getting any praise for trying! In my book, if you do a job half-assed you might as well not have done it at all. On that note, I am not one of those parents who gives allowances for house work. The way I see it, nobody pays me to do it, so I’m not going to pay my kids for house chores. The reality is that we live in this house together, we make the mess together, therefore we clean it up together, damnit! To be fair though, my kids will earn money for jobs like cutting the grass, or cleaning the car because these are services that I will pay to have done by an “expert”.
And yes, I am aware that some of you who do give allowances will argue that it teaches kids how to manage their money (even if you’re not exactly teaching them anything about receiving money without earning it), which is very important, but rest assured my children know how to manage money. Not only do they get paid to do jobs like cleaning cars, they receive monetary gifts from their grandparents, and my 15 year old started his own business a year ago when he began selling leather bracelets that he makes himself.
Lastly, there’s one other thing I will pay my kids for:
Yup, that’s right. Because, and hear me out here, while they should want to get good grades for their own personal satisfaction and the opportunities that good grades will afford them in the future, I also know that children in general are not fully capable of seeing or understanding the long term consequences their effort in school has (and my children have been exposed to the University with me since they were babies). Additionally, I have always taught my kids, as I do my college students, that school is their J.O.B. Just like a job, you have to be there on time, or there are consequences, just like a job if you smart mouth your boss/teacher, there are consequences, and just like a job, the better you do, the more recognition you receive and that recognition should be rewarded. In a job it would be a promotion, right?
Ok, so I give them money for their grades, albeit a very modest amount and an amount that is based on incentive; the better you do the more money you make. When they were in elementary school, for every A on their report card, they would earn $2 and for every B, $1. Straight A’s (Principal’s Honor Roll) got them a whopping $10. Anything lower did not qualify for monetary compensation. This worked rather well throughout elementary school and as they moved into middle school and now high school, taking honors and/or gifted classes, I upped the ante and told them if they got all A’s and B’s (honor roll) they would earn $25 and straight A’s would get them $50. Understandably, it becomes more difficult to as you progress through the grades, but I was posing it as a challenge for them to push and excel.
Throughout the three years that my eldest was in Middle School and even into his Freshman year (with the exception of the perhaps two or three grading periods in early middle school) he has brought home at least one C on his report card every grading period. My youngest started Middle School last year, and again with the exception of one grading period managed to bring home at least one C every other grading period.
So what’s the problem?? In my mind, I’m giving you the opportunity to make some buku bucks!! And you still don’t want to work hard for it?? I was left dazed and confused realizing that the damn positive reinforcement WAS NOT WORKING!! So where did that leave me??
I’ll tell you where! It left me with THREATS! If I threaten to fire you, then you’re most likely going to step it up, especially if you can’t afford to lose your job. So I threatened them! At the beginning of the school year I told them that if they brought home anything less than a “B” they would be grounded for the following grading period. The entire 9 weeks! Throughout the first month, on several occasions, I reminded them of this threat in an attempt to ensure it hadn’t slipped their mind, because honestly, grounding my kids was not something I was looking forward to; the reality is grounding kids is A LOT OF WORK! It means being consistent and not being manipulated by “I love you’s” and “How was your day mommy?”
Suffice it to say, the grading period ended on Friday, October 28th and, well, I think the evidence speaks for itself!!
|Bro’s Before Hoe’s I'm sure everyone is familiar with the saying "Bro's before hoes". And I'm sure many of you are nodding...||Parties, Drugs & Sex…Oh My! "Sooo, you guys don't want us to smoke pot right?" The question was being asked by my 15 year old son. ...||Teachers vs High Schoolers Match-up If it was an MMA match, then you'd most likely be rooting for the youthful, rebellious, and energetic...||Bad Teachers…or Bad Students? Bad teachers...no, I'm not talking about the Cameron Diaz kind of hot, pot-smoking, "I don't give a shit"...|
© 2010-2013 2010 Me, My Guys, & My Stumbles Through Parenthood All Rights Reserved All Rights Reserved -- Copyright notice by Blog Copyright