Week 32, Day 2 (-5 pounds)
Heart: If parenting is one thing, it’s trial and error. Sometimes it feels like a lot of error… But, over the course of trying different things to encourage good behavior, I’ve discovered something pretty important about my boys. Neither responds well to negative reinforcement. I have seen such cute ideas on Pinterest for behavior charts. You know the ones I mean, they start at “Way to go!” and each time your kiddo makes a poor choice, they clip down the chart. This allows them to anticipate the consequences and, ideally, make better choices to prevent moving down. We made one for the boys a while back to give it a try and found that it was a total and complete failure for our kids! Their behavior was so much worse! It wasn’t a total loss as I learned so much about my kiddos and the way I parent through the trial. My kids don’t respond well when I spend my time noticing poor behavior. They respond better when I’m catching them making good choices instead of poor choices. It was also a challenge for me to have the same consequences every time. I’ve blogged before about how important I feel natural consequences are, and this stripped away the natural consequence in the name of something predictable. Predictable isn’t, in and of itself, a bad thing, but I love the idea of consequences that teach rather than simply punish. Clipping down to ‘Warning’ for choosing not to put on your coat is far less effective at our house than being cold because you chose not to wear a coat.
So, we created a ‘Good Choice Chart’ for the boys. It’s nothing more than a grid of 30 squares that I decorate and hang up. When I see the boys making good choices (helping one another, obeying cheerfully, doing a chore they weren’t asked to do, etc.) I give them a sticker to put on the chart. When they fill the chart, we have a family movie and popcorn night! We snuggle up in shark and mermaid blankets, pop a couple of huge bowls of popcorn, usually have some type of sweet treat and watch a fun movie! It still blows my mind (a year later) how much it motivates them! The have to get 30, yes thirty, stickers to earn a movie and popcorn… and they work their tails off! There are a few rules that keep it working for us. First, if the boys ask about getting a sticker, it’s an automatic no. This prevents them for making good choices solely for the sticker. They make the good choices unsure of whether or not they’ll get a sticker. Sometimes they receive a sticker and sometimes they don’t. Also, we have a strict rule about not losing stickers. We do not take away stickers that have already been earned. If it’s been earned, it’s been earned. As far as consequences go, we try to use natural consequences as much as possible. The stickers are purely to reward the kids for making good choices.
It’s become a pretty regular occurrence that if Banayner wakes up before everyone else, he’ll get himself ready, feed the dog and get breakfast ready for everyone else! He doesn’t always earn a sticker for it, but sometimes he does, so he keeps doing it to be helpful! Both boys have made an art form of saying, “Ok Mom, maybe next time” when they’re told no about something, because sometimes it earns them a sticker. For my kiddos, the focus being on the positive keeps good choices in their minds. Instead of constantly thinking about the poor choices that lead to clipping down, they’re thinking about all of the good choices they can make to earn stickers! It’s not perfect, but it works for our family!
Soul: I have been in an interesting place spiritually. I swing back and forth between feeling stoked about the things I’m learning and feeling weary and tired. I guess I’m in one of those neutral seasons. Not a mountaintop, but neither a valley. I’m just journeying with Jesus. Sometimes I find myself looking down at how far I’ve come and feel joy with where I’m at, but then I look up and realize just how far I have to go. I guess this isn’t a bad place to be, farther than I was and still on the journey!
Strength: I was so nervous to step on the scale this morning. Valentine’s Day and birthday week mean a lot of desserts and, while I was logging my food and trying to make good choices, there were days of going over on my calories. Ultimately, I felt like I did a good job of balancing healthy choices with indulging in a few pleasures of the celebrations. That should be enough, right? Feeling good about my choices should be my only concern. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking about the scale. It’s so hard to take it out of the equation… I was pleased this morning to find that I had maintained. I felt good about my choices and indulged in some rare treats, so I didn’t feel it necessarily to lose this week. But I was certainly hoping not to gain anything. Life is such a balancing act, in so many respects. One of which, for me, is balancing healthy choices with the freedom to enjoy things like birthday cake, chocolate truffles, and long island iced tea every once in a while! I think I’m getting better at balancing and that is a very encouraging feeling.