It’s bedtime and your strung out four or five year old has collapsed into a heap over the suggestion that it’s time for bed. You both know it’s going to get ugly, but you are now caught up in the drama of screaming at each other. So how do you avoid the conflict? You can’t avoid every battle, but you can reduce the drama.
If Junior/ess is motivated by rewards, here’s something to try. You will need
1. A small clear jar (about 8 oz 236 ml).
2. A bag of little plastic beads
3. A bigger jar or jug 4 litre size
Start by figuring out what issue is making you lose your mind the most. Is it bedtime? Eating? It will be different for every family, but decide before getting little one involved what is most important for you to work on
Here’s an example for bedtime issues
Make a chart(pictures help) for order of bedtime activities and the reward earned.
1. Bath time and ending when asked equals one bead
2. Pajamas equals one bead
3. Teeth, hair, bathroom equals one bead
4. Story time, drink lights out equals one bead
5. Staying in bed til morning equals one bead
That makes 5 beads in the little jar. Making a fuss? Lose a bead. Screaming hot mess? Two beads and so on. Hopefully the entire contents of the day’s beads won’t be lost, but be firm on the loss. Once your child realizes that you are not engaging and that the beads are disappearing, it is to be hoped that the histrionics cease.
Now when the little jar is filled, your child can decide if he/she wants to use the bigger jug. The little jar can be a little reward ( it doesn’t have to involve buying a toy-it can be a fun walk in the park or whatever activity you decide upon). You can involve your child in deciding whether to defer the reward by dumping the contents into the bigger jug for a bigger reward. It can be whatever you wish to use as an incentive. It can be saving for a very expensive toy, or a vacation. Use your imagination to think of what will be a suitable motivation for you and your child.
You can expand the chart into other areas as your child grows. For example technology time and number of beads needed for a certain amount of screen time. You can decide what needs to be accomplished to earn a bead and how many beads are needed.
Hopefully you can regain your sanity, have a calmer home and above all a more harmonious family life.