One of the best things about being a writer and blogger is that I get to network and be inspired by other writers and their experiences. After reading my friend Stacia’s post on a system that’s working to modify her daughter’s behavior, I had an epiphany.
As many of you know, my oldest child is one of those who takes the term “strong-willed” to another level. He’s a VERY bright, loving kid with tons to offer this world, but he has been a quadruple handful since he was born. Over his nine years on this Earth we have tried every single method of discipline/punishment/behavior modification under the Sun and rarely does anything ever have a lasting effect on him. Taking things away from him doesn’t work (like she said about her daughter, you could take all of her stuff and send it up in flames and she will not care), while spanking/physical punishment just enrages him and makes him act out even more. I’ve often joked saying that I’m either raising a Navy SEAL or a psychopath, in reference to his iron will and determination. There’s no getting in his head, and I’m just as strong-willed and cunning as he. The rewards system with charts KIND of works, but then in the insanity of raising four kids I usually wind up dropping the ball and either fail to manage the chart or forget to make good on an earned reward, he loses faith in me, and the system blows up like this:
There are times I internally start to panic because I know that this mess HAS to be under control before he gets much older, and although over time we have made SOME strides, there’s still tons of room for improvement. Stacia’s system (If you didn’t read her article earlier when I told you to do it, go read it now or this won’t make sense and you’ll be sad Do Your Kids Need to Chillax?/a>) calls for a “Chillax” Jar, which is full of slips of paper that have ways to redirect bad behavior on them and a “Goodie” Jar which is full of paper slips with small treats on them. (She also has a printable on there so you can use her paper slip suggestions if you wish!) At some point she mentions the fact that HER OWN behavior often needs redirecting just as much as her daughter’s behavior does when a situation blows up… AND THAT MADE SO MUCH SENSE TO ME!!!
Seriously, my mind was blown. Like this.
It humbled me like Ronda Rousey meeting up with Holly Holm, but it made total sense and I knew she was on to something. Quite often, when things are getting out of control in my house it’s because my behavior (yelling, irritability, frustration… all of the stuff that happens when an sleep-deprived, overwrought mom of four has hit rock bottom) is adding to the insanity. Adult behavior modification is needed around here in addition to changing the kids’ behavior. Things escalate more rapidly at these times than they do when I take a more calm, positive approach to handling the situation at hand. I need ways to redirect my OWN behavior, rather than continuing to stew and explode. Hence the Adult Chillax Jar… I need to be reminded that for my physical health, mental health, and the well being of everyone around me that stepping back and working to modify my mood is key. Especially since I’m Bipolar. Making a list of things that help me to change my perspective was actually very relaxing, and kind of excited to know that I will have a ready-made approach to stressful situations when they arise.
It forced me to admit something else: Frequently I’m guilty of just buying or doing things that I want whether my behavior has warranted being rewarded or not (like a Starbucks drink I can’t really afford but makes me feel better for a few minutes) because I rationalize that I’m and adult and I can do whatever I want. I ask you, what does that show my kids? That just because I’ve hit a certain age and have tons of responsibilities that I can act however I want and reward myself when I feel like it? I don’t want THEM to act like that as adults.
My husband and I constantly tell them that self discipline is important, and that we can’t have everything we want just because we want it, but I’m realizing that I’m not walking the walk, and that’s what speaks volumes to kids and everyone else. After making a list of “goodies” or small rewards that please me I’m kind of excited and also recommitting to saving money on impulse buys for myself (these don’t happen very often but they DO happen). Just as I’m constantly limiting the kids on sweets and buying little “happys” for them so that it will actually mean something to them, I should seriously be doing the same.
I haven’t quite decided if I will be the sole administrator of my own Chillax and Goodie Jars or if I will let the kids and my husband direct me in using them. Allowing my kids to see me as a human that makes mistakes and needs direction will also hopefully help them to relate to me as they grow older, knowing that I’m far from perfect and am working to be a better person.
Look! I made you some printables! Click on these links to print out my Jar Labels an Paper Slips.
Remember, you can make your very own reward slips and mood-changing slips- Mine are merely suggestions of what works for me!
Goodie Jar Label and Slips