I think my girls are good kids. I think they’re typical for their ages. Peacefully quiet one minute, screaming banshee the next. Kissing your cheek telling you that you’re the best mommy in the whole wide world and stomping around shouting, “You’re not FAIR!” the next. They’re all like that, right? (Please say yes.)
Both of them regularly are hard of hearing when it comes to following directions. Selectively hard of hearing. I’m sure I’m not the only mom who has to tell their preschooler to put on her shoes approximately 15 times in the morning. Seriously. Sometimes it’s more. The toddler does not let me brush her hair. Ever. I mean, I do brush it, but it’s… well, almost an Olympic sport. Everyone wants breakfast, but nobody wants to eat. That sort of thing.
We have a very, very tight schedule in the morning and the not listening has gotten to a point where I want to lock myself in the laundryroom and just call it a day.
Instead, I took a page out of Olivia’s preschool teacher’s book and started using a pom pom jar. I got a clear plastic container and a bag of different sized pom poms in all colors. I explained to the girls that whenever they follow directions the first time they’re given, they may choose a pom pom to put into the jar. What kind of directions? For us it’s getting dressed, putting dirty clothes in the laundry bin, putting shoes and jackets away (or on), clearing dishes, brushing teeth and going potty/washing up, cleaning up toys or messes, allowing me to brush their hair – pretty much anything like that. They get bonus pom poms for random acts of kindness around the house. For instance, I “caught” Olivia helping Audrey put her shoes on one morning. Not because I asked her to, and not because she wanted me to see. Just because. I try to reward that behavior whenever I can!
When the jar is full, they get to enjoy a pre-chosen treat. For this first time, they decided they’d like a popcorn slumber party – with each other. Um, OK!
It’s been working pretty well so far. It’s simple enough that Audrey gets it, which helps a lot. It’s hard having separate rules/expectations for them since they’re only 22 months apart, but at this age, Olivia really is a lot “older” than Audrey.
Of course, if they deliberately disobey us or misbehave, we can take a pom pom out of the jar. There have been a few times my husband and I have had to yell, “Girls? POM POM!!” It sounds so funny out of context, but hot DIGGETY does it get them in line!
What kinds of behavior modification tools are you using?