Sunday, March 16, 2014
Wyatt is an only child. Therefore, I theoretically have the time and energy to do more things for him than my friends who have several munchkins. And because I have done too much for too long, I'm starting to see that he is either too comfortable letting me do certain things for him, or such menial tasks are far beneath "Prince Wyatt." Up until this year, he has never had a bad attitude when I've asked him to help me out with things that he is fully capable of doing. Lately, his blatant disobedience or disrespectful arguing before compliance are crossing a line with me. This Mama is completely over being the maid and personal assistant to a 7-year-old tyrant. I refuse to raise an ungrateful child with an air of haughty expectation. He will respect authority, especially mine and his father's. Period.
Over the past several months, I've learned through trial and error that Wyatt is a hard nut to crack when it comes to determining his currency. Most kids would be devastated if you took away their toys, television, or video games. Not Wyatt. He'll just go play with rocks and sticks or read a book. Take those away and he'll turn scraps of paper into playthings. Or he'll make his hands into "airplanes" and make believe. On occasion, he's gotten a spanking for extreme defiance or repeat offenses, but honestly, we avoid spanking him unless it is well earned. Writing sentences is still a good consequence for mouthiness, but since he still needs to be practicing his handwriting daily, I don't like making it a routine punishment. Losing my temper or trying to appeal to his humanity out of desperation have no effect on his seemingly robotic little heart. So, after taking suggestions from some of my wonderful friends who seem to know what they're doing, we're switching gears to a reward-based system.
Above is the very simple responsibility chart I've come up with. No, these are not ALL of Wyatt's responsibilities. He has chores that he must do as they arise, like putting away his laundry, cleaning his bathroom, vacuuming, taking out the trash, making his bed, etc. But ironically, I rarely have trouble with him when it comes to his chores. It's the everyday, mundane routine things that he gets all sassy about. So this responsibility chart is much less about the completion of every task, but primarily about his attitude while performing them.
I printed this chart off and slipped it into a page protector sleeve so that we can hang it on the fridge and use a dry-erase marker to mark off each item as it's done. At the end of the day, I'll give him a happy or sad face to indicate his attitude for that day. At the end of the week, if he's consistently had a positive attitude, then we'll celebrate with a fun activity together. This reward is chosen before the week begins so that he knows what he is working towards throughout the week.
Now, obviously I want him to succeed. So I've decided that he will get one verbal warning regarding his attitude if he starts to sass or disobey. If the 'tude continues, that item gets a strike, and he still has to finish the task. Every day, he gets three strikes before he is given a sad face for the whole day. A sad face won't negate the possibility of earning the weekly reward, but it will cost him his bedtime book, which is extremely important to him. Two sad faces for the week, no weekly reward.
I haven't put this into effect yet. We just started spring break, so most of the things listed are not applicable this week, but I still intend to start tomorrow with any that are. I'm really hoping to see a positive change. I know that the incentive of a fun reward is going to make a big difference. But I think that more importantly, he might start understanding how much control he has over the decisions he makes, and the consequences that come from them. Because I've decided that if he can do something, he is going to do it.