Husband and I had a pow wow after dinner several nights ago. The subject was our whacked out 7 year old. Yeah, I know I said the first week at school was swell and it was. It was the fall-out weekend afterwards that nearly made my brain explode.

I read somewhere that the reason schools are able to keep kids in check a bit better than us at home is because they use positive reinforcements and reward systems as well as negative. Whereas, here at the hacienda, sometimes the beatdown precedes the praise.

I offered to my husband that I noticed our sweet son exhibiting the same breakdown and change of behavior (bad) during the first week of summer. He apparently wanted to know who was really in charge at home because it’s scary having two different arenas with separate rule books.

I posted a question on a baby website bulletin board and have gotten no responses. Then I happened to look in my saved e-mails and found the answer  in something I’d saved. Meanwhile, we the parents, during the above mentioned conversation, devised a plan and I worked on the corresponding chart today.

This is how it works.

One point is earned by doing the following without being asked:

  • – Making the bed = +1
  • – Getting dressed = +1
  • – Brushing teeth = +1
  • – Taking out the trash = +1
  • – Filling up the waters in the fridge = +1
  • – Setting the table = +1
  • (Additional points given for random acts of goodness)

Points taken away for the following:

  • – Disrespectful talk or behavior = – 3 pts
  • – Purposefully not doing what is asked and repeated (aka ignoring)= – 3 pts
  • – Lying = -5 pts
  • – Leaving shoes out = -1 pt

20 points earned in a week then resets the point clock. You could actually get more. But until the 20 are earned, the adding and subtracting keeps going. 20 points earns a reward such as ice cream, a toy worth $ 5, or a ½ hour extension to bedtime on the weekend. And you can save the points so 40 pts = ice cream with a friend. Only stipulation is that we are the only ones who get to mark the points up on the chart.

The son earned 4 points on the first day, no problem. However, yesterday, after a visit to the library which he’d been patiently awaiting since before Labor Day had darkened it, found him with his head in several books and that is where it wanted to stay. It’s ironic that reading a book can get a kid in trouble. So I figured with the real chart up on the refrigerator, he’ll be looking at the points and perhaps we won’t need the system for too very long.

I have now learned to be ready with something, anything, when the storm hits that first week of summer and the first week of school. And it only took us to second grade to figure this out. Now I must go empty out the artwork/homework/paper-phernalia basket of last year’s papers to start collecting this year’s on top of the fridge. I’ve had a plan for that since kindergarten but just haven’t installed the system very well. Best laid plans.

If you have any thoughts, please drop a word below in the comments. Or

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  1. Good to be ready and prepared with a plan for when ‘that particular storm hits. Problem with kids is that once we parents figure out their ‘operating systems/ what makes them tick in any particular storm that may blow thru (how to get them to sleep thru the night when they are infants,how to keep them from climbing out of their cribs after that first shocking time, how to get them to sometimes eat their veggies, how to keep them from fist fighting with their siblings :), etc) they have already moved on to the next storm. Maybe we should be called ‘storm chasers’ – not parents? think that as parents to these people, we become ‘storm chasers’

    1. I like that. Makes me think of the movie Twister which I liked. My theory is that you’re either really brave or really stupid to become a parent. Or crazy for the sake of science like the storm chasers.

  2. “brave, stupid, or crazy for the sake of science”, I like that!

    I haven’t had time to make my chart yet : ( , but thank GOD, Joshua is shockingly motivated to please me for whatever reason and is usually cooperative.

    I’d like to make the chart to cut down on being nasty to his brother though. And taking his vitamins. Those are our current sticking points.

  3. We just cancelled husband’s WW membership. Truly. He said he needed no choices. At least he was honest. Short of paying a lot of money for someone else’s disgusting food, I’m going to endeavor to create his meal plan. Wish me luck with all that.

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