Avigael, my 4 year old has the budding attitude of a pre-teen in full talk-back glory. I find it extraordinarily frustrating when we go 'round and 'round about the same things over and over. I ask her to do something, she either flat out refuses or ignores me until I'm ready to bark out orders dill Sergeant style. She takes time-outs like a pro, and it doesn't seem to interrupt her all that much. If I raise my voice, so does she, so that's not an effective method either. She may shape up for Daddy, but the "wait til' daddy gets home" doesn't work here.
I've tried the sticker chart thing before, and it always seems to fizzle out. She looses interest, and the rows of mini smileys seem to captivate her less and less after the initial enthusiasm. So what's an underslept mom with a business to run to do? I waste so much time harping, pleading, begging and bribing her to refrain from destroying the house in the first place, and helping pick up what she has messed up.
I'm a creative chick, I can sympathize with her desire to get elbow-deep in the Play Doh. It doesn't even bother me when she stacks her giant cardboard blocks as high as she can and karate chop them into a block explosion. But WOW do I wish she'd help pick up after herself. I don't mind giving a warning, but not 20. We've got to figure out a way to get stuff done when I ask, after all, she's a big sister now!
I think I'm equally part of the problem. I'm overly easy going, and typically distracted or exhausted so sometimes I lack the focus or energy to see an instruction through to the end. I'll give an order, forget about it, and then remind her every time I become aware that it STILL hasn't been done again..and again. I often forget to follow through with my threats of time outs or loss of toy or TV privileges. And most of the time, I just clean things up to be done with it.
She likes the visual cues of the sticker charts, especially when they contain pictures so she can "read" what she gets rewarded for. But after so many stickers she doesn't seem to care if she gets anymore or not. So, to help us BOTH be consistent, I'm going to try a variation of a concept we did with the kids at the preschool program I assisted with, and introduce a "daily grade card."
Each day we'd give the parents a slip of paper highlighting the good things and the not so good things to work on. So on this new experimental daily sheet, I picked the four things we struggle with the most: cleaning up her room at the end of the day, picking up toys from activities throughout the day, putting away clothes (from laundry and from her randomly changing her outfits a dozen times a day), and going to bed. I have smiley faces ranging from Smiling, to Uh Oh, to Sad. Uh Oh represents the warning. Sad represents a consequence. Smiling means a reward, like a sticker, or choosing what's for lunch, or something else she wants. That means it got done with one or two requests at the most. If she ignores the warning, she gets the consequence.
We'll try it for a week or two and see if it helps or is a realistic tool for our family. Maybe the visual cues of seeing when she's about to get a consequence for ignoring me (and my reminder of following through with a consequence after a warning) will help us both get on the same "page." As an added bonus, I'm hoping she'll take pride in being held accountable for some responsibility, AND she can show daddy just how good she was at the end of the day, and get another verbal 'attagirl' positive reinforcement.
I'll keep you posted!