Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Games We Play

I have learned over the past 4 years that there is no one parenting book or style to which I can ascribe totally. I have gleaned bits of wisdom from a dozen or so, but truly, parenting involves creativity and flexibility, especially when multiple children with differing personalities are involved!

I would describe my current model as a blend of counting to 3, prayer, green-yellow-red light, reward charts, and Love and Logic.

There are, however, a couple of fun games we have started playing to address certain behaviors that seem to be working well, so I thought I'd share them:

I made up the "Yes Game" last week out of frustration with the frequency with which my children were saying "yeah," "uh-huh" and "uh-uh." The rules are simple:
Each time a someone replies with a Yes or No= 1 point
No/Yes, ma'am/sir, Yes, please, or No, thank you = 2 points
Yeah, Nope, Yep, Uh-uh or Uh-huh = Lose all your points (Wipeout!)When anyone gets to 20 points they get a dollar store treat.

We have been playing for about 10 days with great success. (and my husband and I are now realizing how often we say the offending words, too)

Because loading the car to go anywhere is a very frustrating process for me, I was looking for a non-confrontation way to speed up my pokey little people. So, we have turned loading the car into a race against the clock. I count as they are climbing in and buckling. I don't stop counting until all three sets of harnesses are securely fastened. There is no tangible reward for this, we are just trying to beat our own record.

The latest addition is a fun treat my friend, Emily, brought on her visit Monday. She gave us a large glass cannister full of Hersey's Kisses with a label on the front that says: "Kisses for Kindness." This is a simple way to reward children on the spot for showing kindness. The only ground rule is that they are not allowed to 'toot their own horn' and ask for a treat. They have to be 'caught in the act' doing the right thing.

At this age I am finding the more I can turn a challenge into a game or competition the more willing my children are to joyfully participate. I'd love to hear your ideas of how to make chores or everyday challenges more fun.

15 comments:

Christina Jay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christina Jay said...

We play a similar game when we are loading the car. Our house alarm beeps for 45 seconds before it sets. We try to all be in our seatbelts before the alarm finishes beeping. It keeps the kids focused on the task at hand.

I love the point idea. We've really been working on the kids saying "Yes Ma'am" or "No Ma'am" every time I ask them something. My point is that if you (the kids) respond then I know you have heard me and I do not have to repeat myself.

The kindness idea is great too. Thanks for sharing!
Chris

Kim said...

What great ideas! I'm going to think about what behaviors I want to re-enforce with The Bean that these can be tailored to. Thanks for sharing them.

blessedwith5 said...

Great ideas! My kids like competition so these ideas will be great! Thanks!

Liz said...

Ooohh! I love the "Kisses for Kindness" jar! Care if I steal that one for my preschool classroom this year?

Christi said...

I love the points idea - that will work for so many different behaviors!

And, we'll be using the "kisses for kindness" jar for sure.

k and c's mom said...

Classroom idea that works at home:
I bought a roll of those tickets they use for raffles. Every time I catch someone doing something good, I let them put their name on the ticket and drop it in the bucket. At the end of the week, I draw and the winners get to choose from a treasure box. The more tickets, the better your chance to win. I began this really for ME: I feel like I'm correcting, correcting all day. This made ME look for the positive and often overlooked efforts that the children were making (helping someone else, doing something without being asked etc.) On an aside: I do keep a list to make sure that everyone's name is drawn at some point. Some Fridays, I keep drawing until everyone gets a prize (no duplicate winners). The crowd goes wild.
Another thing I use the signed tickets for is I will pull a name at random to be the day's line leader, or the person who gets to pick the book we will read after lunch, or someone who gets to choose from the listening center first. So, there are many "mini-drawings" during the week and then one Big Drawing on Fridays.

Kristen said...

Thanks for sharing these ideas. I will definitely be trying the points game with my five-year-old daughter! I enjoy reading your posts so much!

Brandy Thixton said...

What creative ideas! I've started a similar game with my two-year-old. We sing the "Yes Song" because, most of the time, her automatic answer to anything is "NO!" She'll even scream out "NO!" as she's in the process of being obedient.

I'll definitely file the "Yes Game" away for the three-year-old stage!

Kara Lyn said...

GREAT ideas! Thanks for sharing! One thing my kids and I do to get in the car and buckled a little quicker...when each person is done buckling their seat belt they put up their thumb and say, "Thumbs Up!" When all thumbs are up I know it is safe to pull out of the drive or parking lot! I am going to get a jar of Hershey Kisses Right away!

Amy-neighbor said...

love these ideas, can't wait to start using them at here!

Blair said...

What great ideas!
I have been working on the "yes ma'am/sir" with my 2 year old. She is getting pretty good at it, but says "Yes Man!" instead. It always makes me laugh.
When my girls get a bit older, I am going to use the Kisses for Kindness.

Liesl said...

Great ideas. I really like the counting to get in the car and the points for Yes...I have a small point system too - or a mark system I call it. I post on the pantry door a list of bad behaviors/manners (potty humor, not staying in seat, tattling, etc.) and good behaviors/manners (kindness, politeness, prompt obedience) for each child. Every time they do something bad they get a mark and everytime they do something good they get a smiley face sticker. After 5 marks or smiley faces they either get said form of punishment or a treat. Of course real grievious offenses (like hitting their sibling or obvious disrespect/defiance) get immediate discipline. Five marks may seem like alot before being disciplined, but on some days they can rack up 5 marks just in a 30 minute mealtime.....

beck'sthree said...

Jennifer, I love the point system for yes/no . . . we've been battling "yeah" for as long as I can remember. Very glad I found your blog through facebook. I've enjoyed reading it the past couple of days.

Kate said...

I LOVE your "Yes Game"!! What a cute idea. I teach first grade, and I think I'll be "borrowing" your game for my classroom this year. Thanks for the great idea. And good luck with your kiddos in school (I'm reading backwards after finding your blog through Whitney's). You sound like a fantastic mom, and your children's teachers will be blessed to have you and your kids as part of the classroom family. :)