I believe that I have seen/heard mention of not using reward systems from Hand in Hand, and I would like to learn more about the reasoning behind that. In today’s video about special time in relation to sleep issues, Patty mentioned not to use special time as a reward, and that makes perfect sense to me. I am mostly wondering if there are ever times when reward systems are appropriate. Currently I am taking a course called the Psychology of Learning, and while I am not really into trying to “condition” my children, I am wondering if things like age appropriate chore charts are avoided by Hand in Hand experts, or if there is place for things like that as long as all of the listening tools are still being implemented.
One of the things that happened this weekend is that we went to a church event in someone’s home. They often have a candy dish that everyone grabs a bite or two from after the event, and my 3.5 year old is very aware of that! 🙂 Also, the man of the home often gives him an extra cookie, which is fine with me. Anything to help him look forward to events like this is a help to me. Yesterday, his behavior was a bit off-track throughout the event, and he seemed really tired. I have never said that getting a candy afterward is a reward for being good, however, yesterday I just didn’t feel like I wanted him to have one–and I think it is mostly because of the idea that “good behavior earns candy, bad behavior doesn’t” that I grew up with, and a feeling of pressure from those around me to think/act that way. Afterward, I wondered if that was a mistake because it just escalated the already off-track behavior, and it wasn’t an ideal time or place for staylistening. I am wondering if there is candy available, and everyone is having candy, should I just keep the candy or no candy decision separate from the type of behavior that is happening?
Also, there is one woman there (who has never had children) who seems to love to call out off-track behavior as “bratty” and needing a spanking…argh–as if it weren’t hard enough already!! I try to avoid her, but I also wondered afterward if, for my children’s sake, I need to defend my children when they are hearing those things from her, or if it would be better to speak with her one-on-one. I know I have seen some good comments about this on the FB page. So I thought maybe I could ask her why it is that my children’s behavior bothers her, and then be prepared to listen and not take it personally, and maybe try to give her a chance to talk about how things were for her as a child and how it felt….I am kind of between that and just avoiding her altogether. :-/
On another note, as a result of listening to and reading the materials from today’s parenting club newsletter, I was able to effectively set a limit for my 3.5 year old surrounding nap time, and stay calm and warm during the staylistening that was needed. At the end of it all, he had one of the best naps he has had in a long time! One of the clues that tipped me off that he really needed a limit and a chance to offload feelings was that he was asking for one thing after another without being satisfied with any of my efforts to meet his desires. This was a needed boost of encouragement for me!
You are doing such wonderful thinking!!! I barely have to answer, you are thinking so well. Congrats on a job well done around nap time! whoo hooo!
In answer to your question about rewards, the short answer is that Hand in Hand does not advocate rewards because it creates so much stuff around ‘buying’ cooperation. It might work in the short term, but the long term affect is that it teaches children to tamp down their feelings with some ‘thing’. Today is a piece of candy. Tomorrow it’s a new skateboard. Years from now it’s a piece of chocolate cake or a cocktail.
I know our perspective is radical, but it is based in brain science. I am going to be presumptuous in saying this, because I have no idea what your Philosophy of Learning class is all about. But, I think that the science of learning has not caught up with brain science. Brain science tells us that in order for a person to think well and therefore learn, they need to feel SAFE and CONNECTED. Therefore we know that children are more likely to cooperate and more likely to think well when we connect regularly.
So, your question about chore charts is a good one. The HIH perspective would be that you are the leader of your family and if chore charts help you think well and stay organized and help everyone know what the plan is, go for it. Along with that would come the understanding that what will help everyone to do their chores is lots and lots of connection. And the understanding that if someone refuses and melts down, it’s not your fault, their fault or the fault of your system. What’s happening is that your little person is using the chore as a PRETEXT to offload some feelings. So, you BRING THE LIMIT – sweetie, it’s time to take out the garbage and you LISTEN – letting go of the need for the garbage to go out right then. (that could only be accomplished with a threat) and trusting that if you LISTEN (and the task is developmentally appropriate) that the task will eventually be accomplished. So, yes, as long as you are using the Listening Tools regularly and you understand what drives off-track behavior and how to get your kiddo back on track, a list of chores could be a great way to keep track of everyone’s job.
Here are a few articles that explain our thinking about chores and consequences:
It sounds like the church situation was a bit ‘sticky’ (pun intended) A good place to start with all of that is for you to get some listening time with a Listening Partner so that you can get underneath all of your own feelings and fears. It’s really ok to decide, “I don’t have the time/space/energy to staylisten, so you get a piece of candy and we are just going to muddle through this”. Again, it’s not about the behavior – it’s knowing that your son is off-track and you are choosing to get through it the best you can. But you won’t be able to think clearly the next time until you get underneath and release your feelings about what other people are thinking, how you were disciplined, how he’s going to turn out if you don’t ‘nip this in the bud’, etc.
After you do get some LT, you may decide to go another route… we have 4 listening tools so that you don’t always have to staylisten. I don’t know the parameters of the situation, but what if you offered 2 minutes of Special Time? or went into another room for a chase game or a bit of wrestling – as long as you are not in heels (: Laughter is sooo connecting and it is also a sign that your kiddo is offloading tension. Oh, and making sure that he’s really well connected using some Special Time and/or rough n tumble play BEFORE you go to these kinds of events could help preventatively.
Now the older woman may think, even say, that you are rewarding the bad behavior. Again, we have to take that to our Listening Partner, so that in the moment, you can smile and say something like ‘oh, no, I wouldn’t do that’ as you whisk your child away for Special Time or pull him into a Vigorous Snuggle and snuggle, snuggle, snuggle. Honestly, getting the giggles going is going to be more palatable in a social situation than staylistening. (Notice how tense people get in a grocery store when a child starts crying.) I, personally wouldn’t engage with her (as we were talking about on FB) unless she confronts you or says disparaging things about your son in his presence. Then I would set a limit. “Please don’t say unkind things about my son. He’s doing the best he can in this moment” She probably will never agree with you, but if you don’t defend or try to convince her and just say, “I’m sorry it’s hard for you”, then you stay calm and centered. We can set limits with adults the same way we set limits with our kids. It’s my job to set the limit. It’s not my job to control how you feel about it. If you were co-parenting or living with her that would be a different situation. In this situation, you can set a limit if she says something directly to you or about you. Otherwise, if I were you, I probably would avoid her. Whatever you decide to do, getting listening time around what she brings up in you, will help.
You are doing so well, good Mama! I hope I answered your questions. Honestly, you were already thinking so well, I just provided a little reassurance. It’s great to hear how well you are using the tools. Keep us posted on how it goes.
Peace & Smiles,
Hand in Hand Certified Instructor
Conscious Child-raising Creating Cooperation and Peace
Follow me on facebook: Parenting by Connection with Kathy
“If we are to teach real peace in the world, we shall have to begin with children” – Gandhi
Thank you so much for your helpful, encouraging response! I had a great call with my listening partner today too, and look forward to exploring the links you shared a bit more. I have a feeling I will have some follow-up questions that I will add on here. But for now, I just wanted to say a big thank you!