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Parenting just amounts to a hill a beans

This post is by request of my friend Erika. 

I need to start out by saying my child is still crazy hyper (as was I at his age).  He still hits.  We call him Lenny, like from Of Mice and Men.  He wants to pet the rabbits, but sometimes he just pets them a little too hard.

A Facebook reader recommended Love and Logic last summer.  I read it, I enjoyed it, and it worked.  The problem was, Mr. Softy, aka Troy didn’t read it, and wasn’t on board.  He has a bit of a “weekend dad” mentality since he is always gone, and let’s just say we were at constant loggerheads about discipline.  I finally made him offered him the chance to read Love and Logic too.  After he finished it, a light bulb went off in his head, and Team United Hard Ass was born.  I’d been waiting for this draft pick for 3 years.

I’m the first to admit that things have lagged in the few months since he got on board, but when we actually align, Jack is a much calmer and more well-behaved little lad.

Inspired by Love and Logic, last spring we set up two pint mason jars.  I used some stickers we had leftover from the pantry remodel, and drew a happy face on one, and an unhappy face on the other.  We called them the “good choices” and “bad choices” jars.

When Jack made good choices, we let him put dried black beans in the good choices jar.  When he made bad choices, we poured beans in to a lid from the good choices jar and Jack was responsible for putting them in the bad choices jar (recommendation by my friend Mary that worked great!). 

Troy drew a chart that we hung on the fridge.  It had three columns – one with a happy face, and the other with an unhappy face.   On the far left column, we had 1 (picture of a happy jar), 2, 3, and 4 and then drew lines under them.  I really wish I had photos of this because it’s hard to describe.  In the next column, Troy drew a gift in each box and in the 4th “happy choices” jar, he drew a picture of me sleeping (that would be a gift to everyone). 

I bought 3 bribes rewards at TJ Maxx for a total of $10 – a bat and ball, a Dr. Seuss box set, and a Cars action figure/toy.  The 4th reward was me having a “sleep party” in his room one night.

The first night we started the jar system, he dumped the beans out on the floor on accident (lesson learned: use lids) and refused to clean them up.  After some motivating words by Troy and myself, we left him alone, for two hours on the floor as we waited him out.  He was told he had 10 more minutes to clean them up, because dinner was going to be served.  He didn’t eat dinner that night. He chose to lay on the floor through dinner (I have photos of this, but he is naked, so they’re not going on the blog!!!), but after bath he did clean them up.  Troy was a freaking wreck, but I was very proud of him for sticking to his guns.

The jars went everywhere with us – to family dinner, to preschool, to my aunt’s, and any adult was able to fill make the decision to add or remove beans from the jars.  It took him well over a week to fill up that first jar, and we pretty much threw a party when he did.

Things got easier and easier as the jars got fuller and fuller.  If he was headed down the road of doing something naughty, we could bring him back with a “is that a good choice buddy, or a bad choice”?  We had a trigger word (“uh oh”) to let him know that something he was about to do could get him in trouble.

The system worked, and once we got the 4th full jar, we stopped using the bean jars, but retained the good and bad choices nomenclature. 

Life gets busy, and sometimes we find ourselves falling back to old ways; yelling, stomping, etc.  But when both of us are on the same page, it is parenting magic.

Now, if I could just find a wand and put an end to the hitting…

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7 comments on “Parenting just amounts to a hill a beans”

  1. I think I just might make some of these “choice jars” for my husband… wonder if it would work…

  2. Loved Nancy’s comment! FYI, it’s not a ‘bribe’ unless you are trying to get him to do something illegal. You are providing an ‘incentive’. : )

  3. That is a very interesting system. Glad to hear it has worked. Wouldnt the no-hitting fall into the good choice/bad choice?

  4. i love the sound of this!!! i have a 12yo who used to lash out before he learned how to express himself. hope it keeps going well!!

  5. Good for you! I know that it is hard, but it is worth it. Our older child, L, just turned 5 and has Asperger’s Syndrome. He was doing horribly until we managed to get him into a school that uses ABA therapy (applied behavioral analysis). While I am not familiar with the book you mentioned, I am very familiar with giving a visual motivator, and the constant hard-ass repetition necessary to make it all work. (I am also used to naked temper tantrums on the kitchen floor). It is a hard thing to offer unyielding structure and discipline to your child, but it really does work – especially when everything else has failed.

    Our other son (who just turned 2) has no signs of his brother’s autism, but is…unruly. I have been using the same techniques as with my older son, and I can now walk through a store without him taking off like a shot. Well, most of the time.