Munchkin has been challenging over the past few weeks. No surprise really as in the last 7 months we have turned her world upside down. First there was B2; suddenly there is competition for parental attention. Then, as she is getting used to that we start house hunting and put the only house she has ever known on the market (more of that in future posts) and then all her friends start school and she can’t see them very often. Add to that parental anxiety about house chains, family illness and ofsted and you have a perfect mix for 4 year old misbehaviour.
So, what do we do about it? Well in true Hill fashion we have a particularly awful couple of days then sit down calmly discuss and realise that we need to tackle one behaviour at a time rather than picking ob everything all the time. We need to give positive praise and finally and perhaps most importantly we need to manage our own tempers,
How is it that in a classroom I can be the picture of calm with even the most horrendous child. I can be cross and firm with no real emotion getting in the way and I can be in control, whereas at home with a 4 year old… OK, I know, there is an emotional tie, she’s a reflection of me, she knows how to push my buttons etc, but none the less I know what I should do and also how I often make things worse.
Now, don’t get me wrong. none of this is to excuse her poor behaviour. She needs to learn what is and is not acceptable behaviour. She needs to start taking responsibility for some of her actions and she cannot be allowed to get away with poor behaviour. But by the same token, I need not to lose my temper, not to pick at every little behaviour and not to expect angelic behaviour all the time, no matter what.
So how are we moving past this blip? Well we are using a reward chart. No, sorry there us nothing truly new here. My reason for posting on this oft told solution to misbehaviour is that I am coming to the realisation that the reward chart works because it helps to moderate the behaviour of both parent and child.
We have two small pots of pasta. One pot starts the day with 20 pieces of dried pasta in. The other pot starts the day with 10 pieces of pasta in. Munchkin’s challenge is to move the 10 extra pieces of pasta into the pot with 20 pieces by “good, kind and helpful behaviours’. But she loses a piece of pasta each time she hits or hurts anyone. (I resisted putting all her ‘bad’ behaviours into the category and picked the one worst thing to work at.). If by the end of the day she has retained her 20 pieces she gets a sticker. If she has 30 she gets two stickers. This satisfies the need of a 4 year old to have immediate reward for her actions. The following morning at breakfast she is allowed one or two (depending on how many stickers she has) Pez sweets. This reminds her of the good behaviour the day before and the fact that it is rewarded.
So, that is how it is moderating Munchkin’s behaviour, now how about mine? Well to start off with it is making me give more praise. “Thank you for helping with the tidying/ putting on your shoes/ making B2 laugh”. It has also meant that I am not focusing on every small misdemeanour and therefore overloading Munchkin with criticism. It gives me consistency – Munckin knows what the penalty is. It also allows me to see the bigger picture and take a step back tfrom my own emotional responses.
So far the behaviour overall has been improved. Many behaviours have simply stopped as they don’t get the attention. Her levels of good behaviour have gone up and I have not had such shouty days!