Monday, August 10, 2009

fingers crossed that this is just a phase

i'm a firm believer in using positive reinforcement to influence a positive change in behavior. i don't believe in spanking, yelling, or other sort of punitive physical or emotional punishment, though after the shit my kid has been pulling lately i can totally understand how some parents end up at that place.

we've been using timeout with her and it works to stop the negative behavior in the moment, but i want to teach her make good behavior choices; to set herself up for success by earning rewards for good behavior instead of receiving punishments for bad behavior. besides, timeout is hard on all of us when out in public, which is where most of her outbursts are occurring these days.

after a rough couple weeks, culminating in a public tantrum to end all tantrums, i've decided to implement a simple reward system for the kiddo. i've created zillions of star charts for kids in my past life as a child & family therapist. typically, with the population i worked with most frequently, our target behaviors were more along the lines of "don't set the cat on fire" and "no threatening my classmates." our target behaviors will be much simpler, more age appropriate, and specific to the behaviors we're struggling with as parents of a willful toddler.

it will look something like this:

the language we're using (use nice hands, make good choices etc.) is very familiar to her as we've been using those words with her since before she could understand what they meant. now she can fully understand what we're asking of her but her willful two-year old personality and lack of impulse control to reign in her behavior has left us looking for a more workable solution. the bruise on my left cheekbone (from a hurled nalgene sippy bottle) and the scratches on my neck (from fingernails on definitively not nice hands) are proof that our discipline strategy needs a boost. she's wearing me out and she's still 12 days from her 2nd birthday. how much more terrible can The Twos get? again, please don't answer that question.
so, wish us luck. i'll keep you posted.


  1. we used sticker charts and they really helped with some of E's behavior. We made him get to 10 stickers before any reward. good luck!

  2. Good luck! I think you're right that the positive reinforcement is more important than punishment, though you know I'm a big natural consequences person too. (Like you can keep all the toys you clean up, but if I have to clean them up they're going in the closet) Owen's been ALL about the sticker charts lately, and I hope Avery gets into it!