Every once in awhile I get to use my psych minor. We started a behavior modification program with Addie yesterday. First, some background. Addie has been having trouble following directions lately. She laughs and runs away when I ask her to do something. It's a struggle to get dressed in the morning, a struggle to get her outside clothes on, a struggle to get home after daycare. Basically it's the Terrible 3 1/2's. She is constantly asking for treats and throws a temper tantrum if she doesn't get them. Lily has also picked up on this behavior, mostly because she sees that it gets Addie attention. Something had to give.
Yesterday I told the girls that they would be getting check marks on their hand every time they followed directions or shared with a sister or friend. At night we will count up the check marks that they have gotten. Both girls were very excited about their checks. Right now I am giving them check marks for anything that is remotely good behavior just to get them into the routine. We may do a weekly treat if they have earned a lot of checks, but they don't seem motivated by a long range treat right now. The checks seem to be incentive enough.
Last night as I was making dinner, Addie wanted some blueberries. I gave her the package of blueberries to share with Lily. They ate them all and came into the kitchen looking for more. When I told Addie that the blueberries were all gone, she threw the package on the floor. I asked Addie to throw the packaging in the garbage. Addie said, "NO!" Lily calmly walked over to the packaging and threw it in the garbage. Lily got a big hug and a check mark. Addie didn't like this one bit. She threw a total fit, screaming and kicking on the kitchen floor.
When she wouldn't calm down, I asked her to come into the living room with me. I asked her if she would like a chance to earn a check mark. The waterworks stopped. "Yes." I asked her to pick up the blocks that Lily and Addie had been playing with earlier. "OK, Momma, I can do that. Can I pick up the ponies too?" Absolutely!!
It's Day 2 of the program and the girls are still going strong. They are doing much better getting dressed without a struggle. Sometimes as a mom, you just have to try the crazy things that don't seem like they would work!