getting the point

Well, it's that time again...

On Sunday we didn't go to church because our boys all have snotty noses.  This made for a long day.  We don't watch TV on Sunday, we don't play outside, we don't play games, wrestle, or do rowdy things.  We watch Sunday movies, draw, eat, go for walks or drives, sleep, read, visit...usually my sisters come over.  But for five little boys (well, four...Adam isn't complaining) this makes for a difficult day.  Take church out of the picture and thats even more time at home.  We try to keep things happy, and in general we really do enjoy the day.  But this past Sunday was not so great.  Our boys would not listen or obey.  They kept fighting over everything.  Jack kept storming away, sad and angry, over one thing or another.  They kept going outside and both Kevin and I yelled more than once.

Once they were in bed, we discussed the need for a change.  We already knew behavior was not great, but that day had made our need for intervention painfully clear.  So...we came up with the point game.  It's nothing new...just another form of the crack-down.  It's funny because the last time we did this sort of thing was a 2.5 months after Austin was born...now here we are, 2.5 months after Adam.  Coincidence?  I'm sure not.  I really think these first few months after having a baby are uniquely rough on us, all of us.  There is so much good going on, that sometimes it's hard to put my finger on where things are slipping, but they inevitabley are. I'm learning to expect some pretty difficult times as we all adjust. Desperate times call for...fun measures.                                           

This time they can earn "points" (corn kernals) by listening and saying "sure" or "okay" the first time they are asked to do something, or if I see them do something nice without my asking. They lose a point if they don't listen right away or do something naughty that they know they shouldn't do.

Each night after dinner, we have a little store where they can spend their points:

Now that we're on day 3, they wake up excited to earn points and they know that the loss of a point isn't fun.  I know, I know...I'm bribing my boys with candy.  But I have no guilt over this.  It's working.  Bad habits are going away and they're learning to tune in the first time and say "sure!" Taylor kept coming back to me again and again this morning saying "what can I do to earn another point?" happily complying with my every request.

Maybe we'll get to a place where we can get them to do the right things for the right reasons,
but for where we are right now, I say this is win-win.


  1. Sounds good. Sundays are funny, they can be so good or so bad.

    Every time I've done something akin to this- I always end up eating the candy. Not good. I have to make sure I only buy candy that I dislike. Even then, it's usually me who gets tired of the whole thing and quits first.

    Good luck for continuation of the good results!

  2. So true Kayli. These things do tend to fizzle rather quickly, but theyre good while they last and usually help to pull us out of a slump. If I get a week of good behavior out of it, well worth it, I say=)

  3. Hey, I bribed my kid with a Rapunzel doll if she would sleep...nothing is below a happy household, right??

  4. Um, this is awesome Nat! Not only are you "cracking down" on the bad behavior, but you are simultaneously teaching them that they have to work hard for the things the want; material things cost money and you have to work for them, not expect them to just appear. And the good behavior begets all the great unmaterialistic wants in life- peace, harmony, love, laughter, pride, satisfaction. Great job mom, I'll be sure to write this one down :)

  5. So, you're pretty much the coolest person on the planet to me right now. A family store? You are so awesome! I love that you are using corn kernels as legal tender in your household. It somehow just seems so perfect.

  6. "Each night after dinner, we have a little store where they can spend their points"
    Love this! Love how the rewards are that very evening.

    I think often times kids don't know what we expect of them...so this way they are learning right upfront what to do, and not do.

    I think this is genius!

  7. Love, love, love this. Positive reinforcement is different. It's teaching not bribing because it's a planned effort for a period of time, not just something you do out of desperation.

    I totally remember your mom's "sure" jar concept from her blog and have plans to use it as soon as my kids are old enough to get it (Maggie's about there) and a need develops for more helpful, obedient children (which I am sure it will). I've told several others about it. Love your idea for adapting it to reward individuals.

    I think that it is SOOOO important that people learn to pitch in and help happily. I was so disappointed today in a few of my YW. They are the nicest girls but today when I asked for help addressing some envelopes and sending out newsletters to some girls who weren't there they completely dragged their feet. I only got one to help me, less than willingly. I was sooo surprised. Getting my own stuff done is a challenge for me, but I have always loved helping other people with stuff. (The "it's more fun to do others' dishes than my own" syndrome.) I guess it's just a blessing that I have taken for granted.

    And the shaving cream finger paint is just shaving cream and a drop or two of food color. So easy to make. Keeps 'em busy for ever. And it rinses right off the tub. So slick. :)

  8. Now, I'm feeling repentant for criticizing. Maybe the girls were just really tired and were having a hard day. They have been helpful at other times for sure. I just think it's nice when people jump to help, because it makes a job so much nicer to do when there are willing hands to help. :)

  9. No, Sarah, I really appreciated that part of your comment because it reminded me that what I'm trying to do in teaching my boys is not only for me, but for them. Their lives will be happier and people will enjoy them more if they learn the value of helping others cheerfully. My mom often says something along the lines of "if what your child is doing is bothering you, it will probably be bothersome to other people too." So if I allow them to be whiney or disobedient, I'm doing them a disservice that will only hurt their future relationships with teachers or friends. It's not just about keeping my sanity, it's about preparing them to have positive experiences later.

  10. Amen to that last comment, Natalie! Raising children to be successful in the world occurs with exactly what you are doing, in the home. You are awesome.


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