Thursday, September 13, 2012

Marbles

I am SO. STINKIN'. PROUD. of my sweet LO! She has grown up so much over the past few months, and I can hardly believe she's now a full-time elementary school student who can ride her bike without training wheels and actually listen to mommy & daddy sometimes!

I'm not sure if I had written about it on the blog much lately, but LO has had some significant behavior issues over the summer. She wasn't listening, wouldn't do what she was asked to do, had a very negative attitude (especially when being disciplined) and was just overall not the sweet little girl I once knew.

One date I was lamenting to friend about LO's behavior problems, and that dear sweet friend of mine suggested I try a system she was using with her 5-year-old son. Marbles.

Yes, marbles.

She uses a system of marbles to reward good behavior. Essentially, if the child does something (anything!) good/nice/thoughtful/kind/etc., they earn a marble! If they do anything opposite of those behaviors, they lose a marble. Once they reach their goal of marbles, they get a special reward/prize. My friend uses 25 as her goal... we started with 10. ;)

I wanted to introduce LO to the system and allow her a smaller goal so that she could (hopefully) reap a reward quickly and see the benefit of earning marbles and behaving. Those first 10 marbles were quite a process! It was gain one, lose one, gain another, lose another. Honestly I was being VERY generous and giving her marbles for the simplest thing just so I'd have some to take away later, because I KNEW I would be taking some away based on her behavior pattern. It was crazy and I thought it'd never happen.

But it did!!!

She finally earned 10 marbles and was able to reap the reward she had set for herself: a family trip to Chuck E. Cheese's! We went to dinner at Outback (that was for mommy & daddy) and then went to CEC (for LO), and it was a wonderful night! We talked up how awesome it was that she had behaved well enough to earn 10 marbles, trying to encourage her to keep it up. The kids had a blast and I'm ashamed to admit I only captured a few pictures of the kids together on a roller-coaster simulator ride.




After the success with 10 marbles, I upped the ante and made her next goal 12 marbles. Of course we let her choose that reward again, which was a trip to Brewster's for ice cream (quick and cheap -- mommy like!). I noticed almost immediately that she was able to earn at least one marble per day rather consistently, which was a HUGE improvement from slowly gaining/losing/gaining her first 10 marbles. She started being super easy to wake up in the morning (at 6:40 AM - gasp!) for school, did her morning routine without complaining, had "green" (i.e. good) days at school, started being nicer to her brother (this one was HUGE!!!!!) and would do her evening routine without too much grumbling. Let's just say she earned her 12 marbles in about a week! Shocker!! I was so impressed and proud of her!

So tonight we loaded up in the car after dinner to hit Brewster's for a big fat ice cream reward! Again, we made sure to talk about how great she's been doing, what a big helper she has been, how proud we are of her, etc. She really enjoyed her special dinosaur sundae, complete with sprinkles and eyeballs... ;)
I love the pic of her and Chase on the bench talking. Chase had already downed his ice cream cone by then but they had a pretty good conversation about who-knows-what. I love these kids!!

After our ice cream trip, I let LO know that her next goal was 15 marbles (I'm trying to ease her up to 25 so this doesn't end up being so expensive with all of these rewards!) and asked her what she wanted as her next special prize. After some discussion, she landed on a trip to a local amusement park complete with go carts and arcade games.

DONE!

I'm so happy that this little girl of mine is back to being her sweet, thoughtful, lovable self! I'm so glad the marbles reward system is working so well for her and us! I highly recommend giving this a try if you're desperate for a way to improve your child's behavior and listening skills! It worked for us! :))