Tuesday, March 31, 2009

"Positive Parenting with the Gold Standard"

Have you ever had one of those moments as a parent when you have had enough and you just want to quit?  I definitely have.  Several months ago I had a whole week of days like that and I was desperate.  I finally got the dishes washed and laundry folded and decided that something had to change or I just wasn't going to make it.  It was past midnight and I sat down to the computer to look up parenting advice.

Now, I love to read and read a lot.  When I was pregnant, I read everything about pregnancy that I could get my hands on.  When I had a newborn I read everything about newborns.  With each new phase, I have done the same.  So trust me when I say I have read a LOT of parenting books.  All of them had good ideas, and some of them even worked, but none of them "fixed" my parenting dilemmas.

I realize that parenting has its ups and downs.  I think it is compounded when you have multiples or lots of kids close together (like me).  It is especially hard when your kids are little and aren't able to communicate very well.  Add the lack of sleep that accompanies being a mom to young kids, and it is a recipe for hard times.

This particular night I found something that intrigued me.  It is an e-book written by a woman named Wendy Jensen called "Positive Parenting with the Gold Standard".  She has 7, yes 7 children, and she said that by following the techniques in her book, you could parent your children without yelling, spanking, nagging, or time outs.  As soon as I read that, I was sold.  The book cost just under $25 if I remember correctly and I was able to download it immediately.

She uses a ticket system for rewards and punishments.  If you do what you are supposed to, you earn tickets.  If you don't do what you are supposed to, you loose tickets.  You can use your tickets to play on the computer or have special one-on-one time with mom or dad, or any other number of things.  It makes the child responsible for themselves and allows the parents to guide their children instead of being the "good guy" or the "bad guy".

I loved everything about the book and was convinced that we had to try it.  I knew that B and C wouldn't be able to do it, but I thought for sure that E and J could.  I took a couple of days to digest it all and to make our tickets.  Then we started.  After about a week and a half, I mournfully realized that my E and J just didn't seem to get it.  The concept was a little too old for them and I was disappointed.   However, I knew it was a good idea and so we put it away for when they were a little older.

A couple of months later E came home from school talking about "bucket fillers" and "bucket dippers".  She told me that when you do something nice for people you are filling their buckets and when you do something mean you are dipping from their buckets.  In a matter of days, my 3 oldest children were all about being bucket fillers instead of bucket dippers.  I was amazed.

I emailed E's teacher and asked her what E was talking about. She told me about a book called, "Have You Filled a Bucket Today: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids ", by Carol McCloud.  It is geared at school age children and it gives them a visual concept of how to be nice to people.

A few days later I saw our tickets from "Positive Parenting" and wondered if we got some buckets to put them in if my kids would get it.  I got some buckets (thanks to a friend who found them at the hardware store) and it worked!!!

Here is a picture of our buckets with the tickets inside.  I wrote the kid's names on them with a permanent marker, and they do really well with it.  Of course there are still moments when things don't go well, but I have been really happy with it.  It does take effort on my part.  I have to be consistent for it to work, but isn't that how everything goes with parenting?

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