I've caved. This "terrifying three's" stage we've been enduring for a good 3 weeks now has finally beaten me and my philosophies on child-rearing into submission.
It's time to institute an incentive program. There, I said it...
People are not lying when they say things like, "I don't even recognize my kid" or "my child is an alien/monster/wild beast" or even "arrrrrrrggggghhhhhh!". Pretty sure I've said each one of these in the course of the last month, and every time it hurts my heart. Sigh.
It all began with sleep problems. My champion sleeper decided she wasn't interested in going to bed at night. Every excuse in the book was tossed out each night (I'm scared, I need to go potty, my bed is uncomfortable, I've lost my ____, one more story, I forgot to tell the neighbor's dog goodnight....) as an assaultive stalling technique. Some nights she wouldn't actually crash until near midnight (after 15-20 escapes from the room - that's her favorite game). So much for relaxing Mom/Dad catch up time!
I tried dropping nap for a bit (and you know how I'm a nap disciple) because the problems were pretty much reserved for nighttime sleeping. This did nothing to help my 8pm plight. It frankly just made her crankier and harder to battle come lights out!
The incentive program idea had been looming for a while (thanks to our well-respected buddies and the success they'd had this time last year), but I was still hanging on to the idea that my kid should "do the right thing" because she's supposed to and not because she's looking for a reward. Ugh. Inner conflict!!!
Before succumbing to the inevitable, I did what any modern mom would do: Google suggestions! Y'all, would you believe I honestly kept seeing SPANKING as the next step? I couldn't believe it! Now, I'm not going to turn a cold shoulder to those who choose this technique, as I know its still widely prevalent in many communities. It's just something Jonathan and I believe is 100% not right for our family. That being said, I decided to start the program THAT NiGHT.
At the end of rest time, B and I headed straight to Hobby Lobby so she could pick out her own colored stones for her manners jar (following the lead of our successful friends, we decided to focus on good manners instead of "behavior"...but I've allowed for rewards for good choices, too, to help start things off). She was pumped about her choice and ready to start the plan. Each time she uses, "please," "thank you," "yes, ma'am" etc without being prompted, she gets to place a stone in her manners jar. When its full, she gets a reward (we're doing cupcakes at the park for the first reward!). I could see a change immediately. Really!
Now that its been a few days, we're still struggling with fussiness, playing nicely with friends (even when we don't get our way - that's the kicker), speaking appropriately to adults (eh hem, MOMMY), following directions the first time asked, and staying in bed at bedtime. However, its much improved from earlier in the week! I can see the light. With polite manners comes better choices and a greater since of self-esteem for my little. Who doesn't feel better about herself when treating others well?!
Getting Daddy on board was tricky, but in the end he summed it up pretty well with this line: "I guess the Mother/Daughter relationship is a little different than the Daddy/Daughter relationship." No duh!!! He was a quick convert after he saw B's reaction to the system. The Adamos are a results-driven crew these days!
Though we've started this system, I'd love any additional suggestions! As all parents know, once you've conquered one phase another one is waiting just over the hill to challenge you all over again. I'll need new ideas to try! We're gonna use this plan for a while, and I hope to start an allowance once she turns 4.
Here's her manners jar. Pretty in purple!