Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Quickly I'll Obey

When my mother calls me, 
quickly I'll obey.
I want to do just what is best, 
each and every day.

When my father calls me,
quickly I'll obey.
I want to do just what is best,
each and every day. 

These are the words of the first two verses to a children's song the kids sing in church. It's also a concept my husband and I taught to our 3 year old class in church just a few weeks ago {see here for lesson} It's also a principle we're STILL working on with our 10 year old. I don't know what it is about his spirit that just wants to fight. But just about any time he's asked to do something he cries, whines, talks back, or simply ignores us.

We've tried sooo many things. We've talked until we're blue in the face. We've given consequences which run the gamut. I gotta say, it can get maddening. The older kids (ages 16-22) have even offered their advice ("It would be so much easier if you just do what they ask the first time.")  Of the older three, only one struggled with this, but he finally grasped this by the time he started kindergarten.

That being said, I realize all children are different. I also recognize that this particular 10 year old had a different start in life, and perhaps it was his fight-or-flight response he learned as a toddler that has just stuck with him. The problem is, it is out of hand. Luckily, he's too embarrassed to try this with his teachers any more (at least this past year). Thankfully the daily phone calls and emails home from the school are behind us. Unfortunately he still does this with us. And like a soda bottle that is agitated until it explodes, my husband and I have had our fair share of "exploding." (Not exactly our best parenting moments.)

In our defense, we do not ask very difficult things of him. I'm talking like, "Please go get your pj's on" "please refill the cat's water" and "please fetch me a package of ground beef from the garage freezer" type stuff. I could totally understand his reaction if we were kicking back in our easy-boys, popping bon-bons in our mouths and we asked him to get dinner started, or something. But by his reaction, you'd think we were asking him for his kidney.

Our child's therapist recommended we somehow help him to recognize his initial response, that he tracks it or puts a marble in a jar every time he whines, or something. But she also suggested we acknowledge and reward him when he obeys right away. The hope is that drawing to his attention just how often his gut reply is a whine, back-talk, etc. then he'll begin to self-regulate. She believes that he isn't fully aware until it's too late; in essence, that his poor response behavior is a bad habit, and that deep down he truly does want to listen and obey.

Hence, the chart. {{Click here to download FREE pdf}}

Anytime he's asked to do something and he does it the first time, without complaining, we thank him and tell him to check the appropriate box on his chart. Once he reaches the first "reward" he gets to pick something from a prize jar (coupons for things like 15 minutes extra video game time, 1 soft serve cone, etc.). Anytime he's asked to do something and he ignores, stomps his feet, throws a fit, whines, talks back, etc., then instead of us getting upset we simply say, "Okay, go put a mark in the did not obey side" and he does. Then he still has to go and do that thing which we initially asked of him. If he gets to the sad face box, then he gets the consequence of an extra chore.

We're hoping this works. Today is just the beginning. Wish us luck.....!


Cristine said...

Emma, I needed this right now. Thank you for sharing. I hope you're okay if I steal your idea. Good luck! I hope it works.

Ruthykins said...

that's a neat idea.

Cindy Dy said...

So happy to be given a privilege to post a comment here. You have a wonderful site. Thank you for the effort to publish this.