Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Turning a Corner and Finding Some Wood

Every time we have hit a 1/2 year disequilibrium Ben's behavior has been right as predicted: challenging, difficult, leaving us looking for what we need to be doing differently on the parenting front.

Somehow 5 1/2 either came really early and was coupled with starting school issues or we are just late and Hell have no fury and this spring will be rough.

I'm going to hope that the 1st day of school call out by the teacher, the daily behavior contract, toy timeout resulting in bags upon bags of toys in my car for weeks at a time this past fall have not been in vain.

Is this to say that he's a compliant child without whining or driving us nuts with gazillion questions, silliness, and more wrestling matches with his 21 month counterpart would be lying. But over the last couple of months Ben has become so much more compliant. Behavior both during he school day as well in after school he has shown real improvement. At home he's more helpful, nicer to Ian instead of treating him like a toy for his owe amusement, and in general more pleasant to be around.

It's almost like he made a 2012 resolution not to be a pint-sized tool.

Throughout this fall both we as well as his teachers have noted a improvement with attention, listening, finishing work, and in general making choices reflecting he is thinking without acting simply on impulse.

Granted we are withing 1 strike from being dismissed from the after school program due to 1 hitting incident and 1 pushing incident, but overall at both home and school we have massive improvements.

One of the things we are doing is using the daily contract system his teacher notes which of 5 areas he had problems (unit centers, literary centers (not finishing his work), carpet time (not sitting still), hallwall (dancing, being out of bubble space), Electives (not listening, talking). He is learning the hard way that playing around in class means he misses any chance to watch his beloved one episode of Turbo Dogs after dinner since we are making up classwork.

Each day he has the opportunity to earn 5 checks on his behavior contact. 3= a bear buck at weekend payout. 4 or 5 = 2 bearbucks. Just what are these illustrious bearbucks may you ask? Try a bucket of plastic green counting bears a friend lent me from her elementary school teacher stash. I'm not sure if the tangible aspect of counting bears and putting them into a bank have make this system work, but it's working.

You can ask Ben at any point of the week how many bears he has and he will rattle off what he has and how many he needs to go into the prize box. I took a suggestion from a friend's discipline plan and stocked our rewards box with more than just Dollar tree junk that it simply going to get tossed by month end.

Instead when the book fair was in town, Ben picked out 10 new books for the box, including the first picked, Aliens in Underwear. Bill and I also have stocked the box with little Lego sets, activity books, doughnut coupons, cars and figures, and also events like making cookies with my friend Katie, a movie out with a parent, trip to Marbles or Durham Science and Life alone with his choice of parent.

Since we no longer can do weekly date nights due to the super early start, this is a great way to ensure more one on one time. One of the other positive things we waited to start was karate. We opted to have Ben wait out the fall and prove that he was working daily to improve before starting weekly lessons.

Lo and behold if at the first sessions since he started does the class reinforce the same qualities we have been working to enforce all fall.

I guess you can say I'm looking for a big piece of wood to knock on and hopes this continues.

****Note that the crappy picture would be Ben spiking his hair over the weekend. I resorted to taking him to buy hair product, only after finding him using lotion and a brush for the better part of a 1/2 hour. Yesterday he also spiked Ian's hair too.***


Beth said...

What an awesome update. Bravo to Mom and Dad! The impossible thing about parenting is that each kid is so different, and finding what works can seem impossible at times. Looks like you've found it (at least for now!). Give yourself a pat on the back!

LauraC said...

Knocking on wood for you!!!