I wrote this a couple of weeks ago and forgot to publish it. We're into the Accountable Kids system a good ways now, but I won't spoil the outcome. Here's how I was feeling before we started:
A few weeks ago I mentioned that I am seeking more discipline in our family life. Because I am a little weak in the self-discipline department, and because, as I mentioned, I hate being a disciplinarian, I decided to seek a little outside help.
This is completely out of character for me. First of all, my educational background is in managing challenging behavior in children. I should know how to figure this out on my own. Secondly, I HATE spending money on things that I feel like I could do myself. Finally, I am a total do-it-yourselfer not only for money reasons but because I can't accept anything off the shelf. It's why I homeschool. Why I don't use curriculum. Why I make my own cleaning products. I like to have things my way.
So that gives you an idea of how desperate I must have been feeling when I Paypal-ed $95 to Accountable Kids for an out-of-the-box "chore" system.
I chose this particular system primarily because my best friend has been using it with her kid for a couple of years now and it works well for her family.
The basic set up is this. A child has a set of chores that he has to complete at set times during the day (morning chores, afternoon chores, evening chores). These "chores" are often simply self care tasks such as brushing one's teeth or getting dressed. Once a child has completed those chores, he receives a "ticket." These tickets can then be exchanged for privileges such as screen time, play dates, a new book, or whatever motivates that particular child. A child can lose a ticket for bad behavior. A child can also do extra chores to earn money, but must first complete his regular chores.
This all comes with a slick little peg board for hanging the various elements on.
I wanted to write a little preview of my hopes and dreams for what this system will accomplish for our family so that I can honestly assess how it's working for us later.
So here are some problem spots I hope will be smoothed out:
Morning Routine/TV Time
As it stands now, my kids wake up and trickle downstairs to watch TV while I have a little quiet time and make breakfast. I take their breakfast orders while they watch TV, and lately, they eat breakfast while watching TV. Then, we fight about turning off the TV and getting dressed so we can get out the door to wherever we need to be that day. We leave 10 to 15 minutes late with me furious at everyone. It's fun. You should try it.
What's supposed to happen is that the kids get up, watch TV until breakfast and then turn it off while we all eat together. Then they can go back to the TV once they are fully dressed and have everything ready to walk out the door.
My ideal situation is that everyone find a different way to wake up in the morning before breakfast (playing with dolls? reading a book?). I would be ecstatic if my kids actually helped me get breakfast on the table or even (gasp!) got their own breakfast. I'd love to have some short family prayers or devotional time before we head off for our daily activities.
For now, I'll settle for what's supposed to happen, but I want to keep my ideal in mind as a goal.
This goes fairly smoothly for 2/3 children. I'd love to have some leverage with the other one.
Back Talking, Attitude, Imperious Demands
We're currently working on this with time outs. I was never a huge stickler requiring one to say "please", but things have gotten way out of hand. I am tired of being held hostage by a little tyrant who will make my life hell if I do not do exactly what I'm commanded to do the second I am commanded to do it. I tried modeling the behavior I want to see, responding kindly despite the rudeness, trying to help and indulge as much as I could, but it has only made things worse. I would indulge and indulge until finally I would snap.
I think this will be behavior I take a ticket for. Deliberate pig-headedness - i.e. refusing to get dressed when it's time to leave the house, or ordering mommy to fetch your shoes because you don't feel like doing it yourself, or screaming at mommy because she didn't get your dolls clothes on just right? Yeah. I'm taking your ticket.
So I'm thinking at the beginning my kids, at least one of them, won't have a whole lot of privileges. I'm trying to come up with things that won't require tickets - things that I wish we were doing more of anyway. Things like reading books with mommy, or going for a walk, or playing quietly in your room.
It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. I'm nervous.