Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Behavior Reinforcement Charts: A Mom's Best Friend!

Parenting is tough.  Anyone who is a parent - mom or dad - knows this, so I don't need to get into the details about how hard of a time I am having with getting my soon-to-be 6 year old to listen & follow directions.  Because, let's face it, not listening to their parents and getting into trouble is what kids do, right?!  Well... it's what my daughter does, that's for sure.  Over the past few months (it's been too long to really pinpoint the exact time it began) my kiddo has given me the hardest time.  I mean, my already tough single parenting has turned into nearly IMPOSSIBLE parenting, in my opinion.  I have been trying my hardest to keep my cool through all of her talking back, tantrums, unwarranted crying, and overall disobedience; but I'm going to be honest, I've definitely lost my head a few times.  You see, I was under the impression that once the "terrible twos" were over, we'd be in the clear!  Well, clearly, I was soooo wrong!

At my daughter's Kindergarten, her teacher utilizes a Color Behavior Chart to track the students' behavior each day. The colors are:
  • PURPLE - Superb!!!!
  • GREEN - Great Job!
  • YELLOW - Slow Down / Warning
  • RED - Time Out
  • BLUE - Call Home
  • ORANGE - Principal's Office

Every student starts off with Green, and it is up to the student to stay in the green all day.  Misbehaving, or not listening, will cause the student to move down the chart or "get a color change".  The Purple is outstanding behavior, going above and beyond and exceeding all teacher expectations.  Although, we were told that students very rarely receive Purples in her class...  At the end of the week, she sends a paper home notifying the parents of which color their child received each day of the week (and the reason for any color change), and we are to sign it and return it to school the following Monday.  At first, my daughter was getting greens every day! Way to go ILa!  But slowly, one (or even two) days began changing to yellows and then reds, which got me thinking of a way to get her back on track.  

In order to add more weight to the color charting, I decided to add a reward.  If she comes home with all greens on Friday, she can get an ice cream sundae!  And not just any ice cream sundae... I'm talking about the kind that you make yourself - with ALL the fix-ins - chocolate syrup, nuts, sprinkles, whipped cream, cherries - you name it!  Since I've implemented the reward system, she has yet to receive all greens, unfortunately.  This has been going on for over a month! =(.  But, I've noticed that she's been getting pretty upset when she sees any other color than green on her weekly behavior sheet, so I can see that the reward system has definitely made her a bit more serious about listening at school.  That being said, I realized that maybe I should begin implementing the Color Behavior Chart at home as well!!  Why not, right?!  Because it's not okay for her to get all greens at school, and then come home and lose complete control.  There has got to be some consistency here.  

Below is a copy of my version of the Color Behavior Chart, and the rewards/consequences for each color. I decided to start on a Saturday and end on Friday so that my chart would have a little bit more weight.  Notice the Blue and Orange are taking away weekend fun activities, which my daughter really looks forward to.  I figure if misbehaving causes her to miss out on the things she wants the most, then perhaps she'll begin to modify her behavior accordingly.  This chart will be laminated and placed on the refrigerator.  Each day, I will start her with a Green, and as the day progresses, I will change the colors according to her behavior - using a dry erase marker. 

Feel free to use my chart for your own children, if you'd like. Click Here to print a PDF version of my chart or Here to download the Excel version to personalize it!

In addition to the Color Behavior Chart, I have also created a chart to pin point her listening skills.  Since a majority of our problems surround her difficulties in following directions, I figured I should track this behavior separately, in order to prevent major color changes in her behavior chart.  I have purchased star stickers from Dollar Tree and will be sticking them on her chart each day if she does one or both of the following:  Follows directions without arguing, or follows directions quickly (without me having to ask again).  At the end of each calendar week, she will receive a coupon (also purchased from the Dollar Tree) good for one of many things to be determined.  See below for a copy of my chart.

Click Here to print a copy of this chart for personal use.

I am extremely excited about these charts, and hope that they actually help to encourage good behavior in my little one.  She really is an AWESOME little girl.  She's the sweetest, most loving kid I've ever met.  And I know that she genuinely WANTS to behave, but she's having a few difficulties controlling her behavior and emotions - I'm sure she gets some of that from me.  So I will do whatever is necessary to bring out all of the good qualities in her, and to ensure that they are displayed at all times.  I'm currently in the process of finding ways to help her identify and display her emotions appropriately in particular situations, instead of defaulting to screaming & crying.  When I find something that I think will actually work, I'll create a new post about it.


Friday, October 11, 2013

Crock-Pot Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal

Fall is upon us!!!!  And with that, comes rainy days, fashionable boots, warm sweaters, chili, and PUMPKINS!!!!!!!!!!!  In honor of my pumpkin addiction, I have created a bowl of warm pumpkiny (yes, I did say that) Goodness to help get you through these cold Fall mornings!  I tell you, there's nothing better than waking up to the smell of Pumpkin Pie in the morning!!!! Mmmm Mmmm... This was my first time making Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal, so as the season continues, I'll probably end up perfecting it just a tad.  If I do, I'll be sure to add an update so that you may all enjoy it as well!

Crock-Pot Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal
Original Recipe / Serves 6

  • 15oz can of Pure Pumpkin Puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 c Steel Cut Oats, uncooked
  • 1 1/2 c Water
  • 1 1/2 c Milk (I used unsweetened Almond Milk)
  • 1 1/4 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg
  • 2 TBSP Butter (I used Smart Balance Light w/ Flaxseed Oil)
  • 3 TBSP Organic Honey
  • Pinch of Kosher Salt
  1. Spray the inside of the pot with cooking spray, to avoid sticking.
  2. Pour all ingredients into the pot, and stir.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 6 1/2 - 7 hours (I cooked mine overnight - my crock-pot automatically switches to warm when done.  If yours does not, be sure to time it properly, to prevent overcooking)
  4. Top with additional milk (I used Almond Coconut), butter, and honey - to taste.
  5. Enjoy!!!
Serving Suggestions:  If you like yours with more of a rich pumpkin taste, try adding another 1/2 can to the pot when cooking.  Or even top with heated pumpkin, sprinkled with pumpkin pie spice.  It may also taste delicious topped with granola or chocolate chips!!  Don't be afraid to add a little variety to your bowl! =)

*Note:  When re-heating, add milk to cold oatmeal, and microwave for 1-2 minutes, or until hot.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Weekday Morning Blues

I don't know what it is about little ones, but for some reason they have only 1 speed:  super duper SLOW!!!  When it comes to getting ready in the morning, I am fully capable of taking a shower, washing my face, brushing my teeth, lotioning, getting dressed, doing my hair, making my coffee & lunch, AND breakfast to consume in the car during my morning commute - all in less than 30-45 minutes!  My child, however, takes about 45 minutes alone JUST to lotion & get dressed!!!!!

Today, she was taught a valuable lesson.  After weeks of trying to rush her to lotion and get dressed quickly, she has continued to play games and take her sweet little time in the morning.  I have warned her numerous times that if she does not move quicker, she will not have enough time to get her hair done & will have to go to school with "yesterday hair".  In the past I have stated that I was going to start waking her up earlier since it takes her so long to get ready, but I've learned quickly that all that does is make it a lot harder on me in the mornings... I'd much rather let her sleep a little longer, to prevent early morning arguments.  Needless to say - today she learned that I wasn't joking.  My poor child not only had to put her shoes on in the car this morning (because I refuse to let her walk into school late because she was playing around & not taking care of her business in the morning), but she also forgot her socks!  So she went to school sock-less, with yesterday's hair.  I hope this was a lesson learned, and that she will finally understand that following a routine and moving quickly is a necessity for school mornings.  My hope is that not only did she learn to move a bit quicker, but that she also learned a little bit of responsibility and accountability.  She didn't really seem to care either way this morning, as she so casually walked into school - but hopefully she now knows that I mean business, if nothing else.  It's all about the "follow-through".

Does anyone else have this problem with their little ones in the morning?  Last year, I used to lotion her & help her get dressed.  But now that she's in Kindergarten, she should be fully capable of doing those things herself... I felt really bad for her, though, as I do not want my baby going to school looking crazy!  But she didn't look completely crazy! Her hair was a little frizzy and the no socks thing sort of bugged me, but she looked like a kid with good hygiene, so I was certain that she'd be fine.

In light of today's shenanigans, I have created a morning routine chart that my daughter will have to follow - and check off - in order to encourage independence and promote responsibility.

I have purchased reward stickers from the Dollar Tree to stick on her chart each morning after she completes a task - or perhaps I'll let her do it herself!  This way, it'll give her something to look forward to after completing each task.  Click Here to print a copy of the chart to use for your own child, or Here to download and personalize the chart to fit your weekday morning routine.

Have you used a morning routine chart with your child before?  Do you have any other suggestions that could help speed up the morning process?  If so, please share!!!  I could use all the help I could get!