So, we’ve enacted Reward Chart Protocol at Camp Bernaba. We were giving out stickers before, but found the preferred place to stick them turned out to be the bag of wipes, where they were quickly forgotten, and then thrown away.
I’ve offered every child in this house stickers, for doing everything from helping mommy to using the potty. I picked up construction-equipment stickers, 3D Cars stickers, Mickey stickers, Minnie stickers, ‘Great Job!” stickers, and silver-foiled monster truck stickers.
You’d think, with the preponderance of good behavior and the obvious surplus of stickers here, that our house would be plastered floor-to-ceiling, and my children would be making their own beds, sweeping the floors, and cooking their own meals by now.
Alas, this is not the case.
I created our first sticker charts on Sunday. As yet, Matthew’s has five stickers on it: two for brushing teeth, one for using the potty, and two for helping Mommy prepare breakfast. Not bad. Unless you start counting the five I owe him from last week, the two I promised Maggie for “being a good girl and playing with your brothers”, and the one Michael is owed for using the potty last week.
I’m bad at stickers and they’re bad at both guaranteeing themselves stickers and holding me to my lavish and empty sticker promises.
Sure, I’ve made offers. They’ve accepted. And I’ve tried my hardest to remember to hand out stickers in a timely and appropriate manner. They’ve also accepted and not come through, accepted and only partially completed the required task, and accepted, but completed a completely different tasks. So, who’s the slouch here?
I’m going to break it down for you, kids. Bribery doesn’t work. This is something I’ve known, but I needed a way to manage three growing, independent little people, and decided to give this route a shot.
And we were holding this ship together quite well until I brought Matthew to check out the preschool. We came home. We talked about it. He was very excited about attending. Yet, he’s irresistibly fought me on most responsibilities since that very day. Is it too much pressure? Is he not ready? I haven’t gotten to the bottom of that yet. But every victory is hard-won, and my teeth and nails have seen better days.
Sure, he enjoys receiving and placing the stickers, but this protocol does not appear to be guiding his behavior in any meaningful way. Is this working for Matthew? I honestly don’t know.
What I do know is this bloody house should be literally covered in stickers by now, but it’s not. They behave as much as one would reasonably expect a three-year-old and two two-year-olds to behave. They’re quick. They’ve found ways to help Mom and Dad. But I need to encourage this behavior to continue. And flourish.
Do I continue along this imperceptibly successful road hoping the practice gets permanent traction? Do I give up on the stickers entirely and move on to something else? Do I focus on modeling, so they can simply follow along?
Hopefully, I’ll find the answer.