Now let’s all get our shit together. And let’s do that by starting with some charts.
While Christmas is such a wonderful time of year for family and friends and celebrating the birth of Christ, it can also do a number on your kids (or wife or husband). I started to notice some certain children drifting towards extreme bratiness and away from humble angelic beings (don’t get me wrong we have never been on either end of the continuum, more like somewhere in the middle but we like to stay in the middle, not drift )
After a vent session with my sweet neighbor – she gave me a couple of ideas of how to get things back on track, and to enforce those ideas I made a chart. If you have boys I am not sure how they will respond to charts, stars, peace signs, and hearts but my girls love when i snap into drill sergeant mode and demand we get things back on track – maybe extreme chaos demands order sometimes? Either way a chart and letting them pick out avatars (that’s what i called it because embarrassingly, they know what that means) really got their attention. MJ: peace signs, Molly: starts, Mills: hearts
For every ten peace sign, star, or heart they get a surprise. Not something we buy, but time doing something fun, mostly (and hopefully I can keep this up) go somewhere with one parent alone or have a friend over.
We decided together on 3 categories and brainstormed what each category means:
- Manners: please, thank you, yes ma’am, telling moms we enjoyed it after a visit, etc. The kids get a star, heart, or peace sign if I witness the manners or someone else mentions they have good manners (keeps them on track even when I am not around)
- help others: this could mean a million things but first and foremost for our purpose it was to help the kids think of other people first. This seems really hard for kids to grasp sometimes so we went over examples: helping sisters learn or do something they are having trouble with, give up a toy and be happy that the other person is now happy (i think i heard gagging sounds coming from MJs direction at this point), giving to Good Will and keeping in mind a child smiling that wouldn’t otherwise have the toy, etc. Mills’ help others chart (2 years old) involves sharing mostly and she gets a heart if she takes a nap or sleeps through the night …that is greatly helping her mother :)
- say hello!: This came from my neighbor, something she wanted to help her 8 year old daughter learn. It’s not just saying hello but learning to carry on a conversation with an adult. If they ask you something about yourself, ask them something back. Except maybe the “how old are you” question. :) My children lean towards the shy side and will many times, not even respond when someone tells them hello – like another friend of mine said – i don’t care how shy you are, you can utter the word Hello. And it’s true…this, they can get. But the conversation thing seems to be stretching it so we will keep it on the board for a while until we get it!
So far so good – After 2 (or is it 3?) weeks now, Mills finally got 10 hearts (the older 2 were a little quicker). So on to 20 now. Once I feel like we have mastered these categories, we will move on to 3 more.
And since success seems to be ringing true with the behavior board, I decided to move on to food. Like many parents I struggle with kids and food. They want the bad stuff, always….and in my feeling of getting this shit done I took a big step for us and removed a good bit of the processed food from our home. It was just yesterday so no one has noticed and I am not so sure it’s going to go over well, but I feel like if it’s not an option, they will choose a whole food over starvation. It’s not too extreme but it is a step in the right direction. Our dinners are usually pretty healthy – but it’s the kids lunches I wanted to focus on.
I send 3 items in their school lunch so we made 3 categories and each child had to put their avatar by 2 choices in each category (just so they won’t be eating the same thing every day). I did not take a picture of the final chart but here are the categories in type: (we brainstormed together again…this seems to be helpful to involve them)
- fruits & vegetables
- nuts & grains
We listed out the possible food items for each category. Of course, they have to be unprocessed (i used this definition of unprocessed: read the ingredient list if there is one and if it’s not something commonly found in a pantry or fridge, you can’t use it) Missing from our list (on purpose): chicken nuggets, gold fish, and fruit gummies, which had unfortunately become a normal lunch for them. I always have good intentions and start the school year out on a better note but time is always against me and convenience takes over. To battle this I am trying to be prepared and have a plan to have snacks made a head of time and get them to eat a variety of whole foods. So we did a taste test, Mills almost threw up (seriously ran to the bathroom saying “I am going to throw up”) when she tasted my homemade granola bar, MJ admitted they were OK, and Molly took the most minute bite you could possibly take and said she would rather pick a different item. That is mostly how it went – someone almost throwing up, passing on the food, or admitting “maybe” with every food but the important part: no one got up from the table and most times, they actually tried.
I will do a follow up post on new food ideas but we are still in the process of “tasting” and figuring out what the girls will eat. We have a long way to go, but I will tell you this site: 100 days of real food is helping me tremendously.
But I could use some help from YOU..I know you must have some fabulous lunch item ideas out there...please share :) I will give you a peace sign.
Here’s to a wonderful 2012!