Wednesday, September 15, 2010

positive reinforcement AKA...rewards for good behavior

I once thought that you could parent your newly adoptive children exactly the same as your bio children who, in our case, have lived with us for 10+ years. I have come to realize, due to the unknown circumstances and traumatic background, it is important to dip into the creative parenting idea bucket and come up with some new ideas to encourage positive behavior.

I share these kinds of posts to encourage and inspire others out there who are trying to come up with some creative ideas on how to encourage children to "do the right thing". So...I came up with the ice cream chart.

Each time I "catch" our 4 year old doing the RIGHT THING, we put a scoop on the ice cream cone. If he can make it to the top of the chart in ONE DAY (pretty challenging) then we celebrate with some kind of a treat. A goody from the dollar store, a movie with the family (at home), out for ice cream cones...that kind of reward.

I will be honest, we haven't done this reward chart for a few weeks, but at the time we started it, we really needed it. And lately, we have seen such great progress with good behavior and good choices, it isn't needed as much.

Our ice cream scoops say: good listening, right choice, obey and happy heart. All areas we needed some improvement on. There were some days that he had lots and lots of scoops on the chart, and other days...well...not so much. And to be realistic, that is normal. Some days are better than others. But now that we are 6 (almost 7) months into being home, those bad days are farther apart than they used to be.

So...that was how we did the let me share about our first time out for ice cream. TOO CUTE.

It was the first time Tyce earned his reward and the whole family plied (Tally was at karate) into the car to celebrate a job well done. We sat down at the table with our ice cream and Tyson grabbed the pepper shaker and dumped it on his ice cream. We all said NO, yuck. He had no idea you don't put pepper on ice cream, this was all so new to him (we don't keep the salt and pepper on the table at home).

There are so many moments like this where the boys are learning American culture and how things are done. It is a precious time in our family as we continue to gel together. So many moments of JOY.

And...just for the record...we don't normally go out looking all fuzzed out. But, when you have earned a reward, you throw caution to the wind. =)


  1. Too cute!! YAY for ice cream treats and bigger YAY for your sweetie adding those paper ice cream scoops to the cone.

  2. Love the pics! He should get another ice cream just for being such a neat eater...I'm impressed! We've done away with white shirts! I like that you have specific names for each scoop--I'm stealing "happy heart"--much easier to understand than the big words we've been struggling to use. :)

  3. I love Tissy's little kerchief, too cute and the pic of Tate eatting ice cream is adorable. How did you remidy the pepper topped ice cream? Great idea for positive reinforcement for good behavior. I often started them, but had a hard time continuing them fairly and consistantly, but like you said...even if it works for awhile then great. You can always pick it back up when needed. You are a great mama.