Over the summer, things got pretty hairy in my house. All the munchkins home, long slow days....we had quite a bit of pesky arguments. Who touched who, who was looking at who, who needs to feed the dog...it was getting out of control. Even the dog was annoyed.
I realized all my nagging to be nice to each other was not effective. My other approach, yelling "I'm sick of it!" every three minutes didn't fare any better.
I am not one for charts, I expect good behavior like I expect Hubby to take out the trash. It is more of an "or else" mentality around here. There is no reward, DO IT OR ELSE!
But behavior needed to be adjusted. I knew it. I had to face it. I refused to allow the munchkins to fall off the kind and considerate wagon. I knew an incentive to work towards better behavior was what I needed to get their attention.
I started a "manners" chart. I hung it in the kitchen, and they each had a column. A smiley face was earned for any act of kindness toward a sibling. Smiley faces also were earned for good manners and helpful behavior. Once ten smiley faces were earned by each munchkin, we would take a trip to the dollar store, go mini golf, or get ice cream for lunch. First munchkin to ten could pick the reward. This was a big deal around here, because outings with four munchkins are limited. And they know it.
Two keys to remember:
I never removed a smiley, good behavior is good behavior. That cannot be taken away.
By making all the munchkins earn their ten smileys, there was less tattling and less antagonizing. No rewards until they all had ten. Amazing how they help each other along when they benefit as well.
As with any new system, we were all about the new chart. Behavior went from embarrassing to upstanding (well, I don't want to get too carried away...but it was much improved). The munchkins worked towards their smiley faces.
Within one week we were at the dollar store. The next week we went mini golfing. We were enjoying our little outings, and the munchkins looked forward to earning a new one. We once again lived a peaceful existence within the walls of our home. I breathed a sigh of relief.
After a month the chart fizzled out, but the good behavior was still in place. My summer was once again enjoyable. Hallelujah! The harmony had been restored.
Every so often we are thrown off balance by a change in routine, or circumstance. I realized that nagging and pleading with the munchkins simply doesn't work. Some incentive to get their attention does. And sooner rather then later, the incentives are no longer needed. Good habits and manners are back in place.
My munchkins know how to be kind, and they certainly know how to behave. But sometimes we all need a little nudge to get us back on track. After all, we're only human. Tiny munchkins included.
**My sister, Auntie "B", is a new contributor to Mommyhood. Her 1st article is a wonderful, more in depth look at behavior charts. Enjoy!**