As little personalities develop it is often necessary to change our approach and strategy. They develop in independence and maturity, and sometimes we miss the signs to loosen up on the boundaries a little. This results in tantrums that leave littlies exhausted and mom feeling frazzled and at her whits end.
Most of the baby and toddler books give us fantastic guidelines and we can follow the time frames for certain developmental milestones. It is then also easy to see if your child reaches milestones earlier than their peers and you’re able to follow the development easily. But once they reach the age of 3 everything seems to have very blurred lines of when they will reach certain emotional and intellectual milestones.
We just recently hit a bit of a rough patch, and believe me after a week of constant fighting and the outright defiance of rules and requests had me ready to tear my hair out. So I sat down and really started to re-think my strategy.
Our major issue: General behaviour and compliance to requests and rules.
Where does this come from: Emotional development milestone reached for more control over herself and her environment.
Resolution: Smiley Trains.
I trawled the internet trying to find a star chart, or the now aptly named ‘behaviour charts’ that is compatible with our lives. I really didn’t want an extensive chart. Needed one that will focus on the fundamentals, one that will be easy to keep up, one that focuses on rewarding good behaviour and no focus given to unacceptable behaviour.
I took some ideas here and there and put them together to make our ‘Smiley Trains’
We have only 5 trains, and they work like this:
1) Dudu Train = if she slept well the night (not calling mommy every 3 seconds for nonsense)
2) Wake-up & Dress-Up Train = Wake up without a tantrum, getting dressed and having her hair brushed without a fight
3) Adventure Train = This is all encompassing, for going to school, or the shops, or an outing, or even playing outside
4) Bath & Brush Teeth Train = bathroom isn’t flooded anymore and mommy’s fingers not bitten off during brushing and flossing
5) Good Girl Train = If she got smileys for all the others then she gets the Good Girl smiley, 5 or more good girl smileys earns her the reward that is hidden in the ‘present box’ at the top of the chart.
I opted to use her own little face as the ‘stickers’ instead of going with stars. It has made a huge impact as she counts how many happy faces there are on her trains. Though I must admit that laminating and cutting out 35 tiny circles is not that much fun.
We don’t use it as a threat (ie You better listen or you not getting a smiley) but before we go out we’ll say, “so if you a good girl what do you get?” and she says “a SMILEYYYYYYYY” I really only remind her of the smiley train once a day, and on some days not even.
We started this on Saturday and the transformation is amazing and Tinker-Fairy gets really excited to put a smiley on the train.
An unexpected result is how she now governs herself. She will stop herself when she is starting to misbehave, or if she is defiant she’ll almost immediately correct herself. I really didn’t expect this to happen so soon, thought it’ll take her a week or two to fully understand the concept, but in giving her this measure of control it seems to have satisfied her need to be in control of an aspect of herself.
2014-05-28 ~ Just a quick update on how it’s going. We are still filling up the chart every day, and every week. Since we started the Smiley Train chart more than a month ago there has been only once that a ‘Good Girl Smiley’ was removed from the chart. Tinker-Fairy was absolutely devastated that she lost a smiley, and the next day her behaviour was so incredibly good that at bedtime she asked whether she can please have her smiley back cause she worked extra hard to be a good girl. What else could I do, I gave it back and we’ve not had to even threaten with the removal of a smiley again in the past 2 weeks.