Amazing breakthrough, wanted to share the trick

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Farmwife, Jan 11, 2010.

  1. Farmwife

    Farmwife Member

    Long read but totally worth it!!!!

    **Disclaimer** I am not an expert and do not play one on t.v. My difficult child's results may be atypical. Each difficult child responds to things in their own way and time.

    History: My Dad is a psychologist, he specialized in kids when I was young. He had a system he learned in his training (I have no reference to site). He used the system on me when I was 5 and it was very effective. I just did a modified version for my 15 y.o. and had remarkable results.

    What: A simple point system. There are + and - or for older kids merits and demerits. I assign point values to good behaviors like doing a certain chore, redirecting self after bad behavior, having a good attitude, being helpful etc. The bulk of it is based on daily chores. The demerits are based on negative things like outbursts, lies, inappropriate moodiness, poor grades etc.

    Ie: dishwasher filled + 1 point
    Room clean +1 point
    Polite in morning before school + 1
    Leaving a mess somewhere in common areas (shared parts of house like living room) -1
    Moody - 1
    Outburst (raised voice, cursing) - 5

    I added up how many points were possible to earn each day/week and assigned privileges. For my difficult child there are weekly rewards like picking a rental movie, monthly rewards like an item of clothing and long term goals such as earning the opportunity to get a drivers license.
    I made it percentage based. Ie: if there are 100 points possible per week I expect 80% or 80 points to earn certain things. (it's like magazine fundraiser prizes, lol)

    In this way each day is a new day with a new start so if he is a troll one day he can feel as if he can redeem himself the next. I do keep a running total of points so I have extra chores called bonus points. Basically those are the extra credit to make up for lost points on his bad days. Each week his weekly points start fresh, same goes for monthly. I keep track though for the big rewards.

    Why: I got tired of trying to teach difficult child to be responsible or constantly reminding him about things. It felt like chasing a toddler and then we would fight over the smallest chore. It got ridiculous, I was tired of the drama. This way I am sort of out of the loop. I keep score but it is up to him to earn or not earn things. That way I am not consequence based. I have a dry erase board with his chores listed in permanent marker. Then he can come by and c heck off chores with a dry erase marker. Then each night he can look at it and know how he did. We erase his check marks but the chores are permanently there. MAJOR help for a flakey forgetful teen. For younger kids you may try pictures of things like a trash can to signify taking out trash.

    Some more difficult kids may take some time getting used to the idea. There are those who will fight you every step of the way. I solved that by declaring this the system until he was moved out, no compromise. The first few days we had an outburst everyday, he was worse than usual. He hated the chore board, hated it hated it hated it.

    Then it happened, today he had a 100% perfect day. We haven't had one of those in 4 years. He finally realized that the chores were not new or harder the system was set up to help him police himself. Today he did everything he was supposed to without a single cue. This is a kid that went without a shower or change of clothes for 3 days last week.
    My biggest goal was for him to be accountable for his behavior. I didn't think it was fair for us if he could have an outburst with no 'consequence' and then act like nothing ever happened. He never cared about any punishment, they never worked no matter how harsh. Rewards never worked for more than a day. Now he has personal accountability because he looses hard earned points by acting out. Then if he wants a reward he has to work overtime to make amends. Now he connects his behavior with what things happen to him. Major step for 'captain oblivious'. The sense of entitlement goes out the door when he sees in writing how he earns or fails to earn those things he thinks he needs. ;)

    Now he is policing himself and I don't have to argue. If he makes the choice to not do chores I accept it because he is also making the choice to not earn things. He figured out very quickly that making that choice to dump his chores on me was a bad idea. After a couple days of being lazy he stopped thinking it was funny and started thinking about how much further his license is.

    Sorry to ramble on. I am just so excited. Two weeks ago I was thinking about placing him outside the home. We had gone that far as a family. I know he will have slips back but now that we have a routine that is consistent and easy for an exhausted parent to monitor things are getting so much better. I was just too tired to give him the kick in the rear he needed. This system is so low maintenance for me. I just inspect the jobs and add up points.

    He gave me a hug and a 'love you' tonight. Hugs he gives based on mood. Haven't had a 'love you' since before puberty hit.

    …..I better go check his room for drugs. :p
  2. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    That sounds like an amazing point system.
  3. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    I agree, sounds like a great system. I just don't know if I've got the energy right now to do it... I know that sounds feeble, but I am just so fried right now with my 15yo's difficult child-ness. But hey, if you guys can go from wanting to send him to Hades to getting hugs and chores done, more power to you! Perhaps if my husband will sign on for this it would be do-able. My problem is often not having backup and support in the other parental unit, Know what I mean?? And I can't make a program like that succeed if it's just me trying to wing it.
  4. Autismkids

    Autismkids Member

    For the younger kids, there is a site called handipoints. It's an online chore system like OP's chores.

    Sounds like you have a great system going!
  5. hamsterwheel

    hamsterwheel New Member

    I have also implemented this at home. We have a magnetic chore/behavior chart by Melissa Douglas bought on Amazon and have had major success with this. Last Saturday, all chores/responisbilities done, no whining or bickering!

    Still haven't mastered the behavioral aspect of this though, but at least I'm not picking up after her any more. One less thing to think about...
  6. whatamess

    whatamess New Member

    It's great to apply points/rewards, but only if a child can consistently perform the required task. Moodiness in and of itself is often not controllable, I've found reward systems to be a very slippery slope, but that is my experience. I hope you find great success with your difficult child.
  7. aeroeng

    aeroeng Mom of Three

    For my difficult child the points would only become something else to argue about, and would never really work for us. But like you said each one is different and the more ideas available the better.

  8. wethreepeeps

    wethreepeeps New Member

    I'm glad this is working for your family. With mine, when we've tried various reward systems, it would go like this:

    "Did I get enough points for XYZ?"
    "I'm sorry, difficult child, not yet, but you can try again tomorrow."
    "But I want to XYZ NOW!!"
    "I'm sorry, you don't have enough points yet, and you'll lose more if you keep yelling at me."

    Dry erase board yanked off wall, broken, screaming, spitting, kicking and lots of "You hate me and don't want me to have anything, you just wish I was dead, why don't you just go ahead and kill me since you hate me so much!"
  9. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    The phosps use these systems a lot. I think they are defintiely worthwhile and work for a lot of kids. The most important part is total consistency on the part of the parent. As a single parent, I found the process too overwhelming to implement at home, especially if one of my girls was in crisis (which was every other week). I could barely find energy to do the dishes and drag my butt to work, let alone keep up with a points chart. For Youngest, I eventually used a simplified behavior plan that worked for her.

    I think if your kid is fairly stable on medications and you have the time and energy to do this, it's a great idea.
  10. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I found the token economy difficult with multiple kids extremely difficult. What I think would be easier with this system would be that the dry erase board is the keeper of the points. Even with multiples. They cant steal each others points.

    Yes a parent would have to transfer the points to a spreadsheet in the computer or a notebook at the end of every day to keep a running tally but that wouldnt be too hard.
  11. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    Very very cool that it's working in your home.

    I've done the point/reward system (tried it many times). It works for kt & wm at school. At home once a certain number of points were earned for a certain reward the world stopped until that reward was completed/done/bought/whatever.

    The most kt is achieving is one chore a week at Residential Treatment Center (RTC). wm sets the table at group home.

    Again, it's very cool that it's working with your difficult child. AND I'm not saying it's a bad system; just isn't/hasn't worked here.
  12. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    This is a pretty common system. I have had at least 5 therapists suggest it and some even set it up for us. Jessie loves this kind of thing. She would time herself and see how fast she could get the chore done right.

    Wiz MIGHT cooperate for a day or two. Then he would steal a dry erase pen from a teacher, neighbor or even from me and take Jessie's points away and give himself hundreds of them. Even when this behavior was put on the board as negative points he did not stop. He also stole and broke whatever reward the other two got.

    Each time we persisted for weeks or months (shortest time was 3 weeks, longest was 8 weeks) and never got any better behavior from him. Jessie and thank you would then start refusing to do chores because Wiz stole their points/prizes. It was an unmitigated disaster every time. Lots of tears, Wiz shouting, Jessie had panic attacks, and husband and I were just fed up.

    Wiz also would get to the point that he expected a reward for every single thing. Use the potty? Drmand reward even though you have been potty trained for years. Wipe your tushie? Another reward demanded. Wash your hands? yet another reward.

    He literally demanded rewards for everything from using the toilet to turning off his alarm to eating a meal. So for US, rewards were a fast road to Awful Town.

    MANY families have very different results, and if this is working for you then AWESOME!! Finding that system, whatever it is, that your child can use to police his own behavior is a HUGE deal. It is just wonderful

    I really hope that your child will continue to by motivated by this method. This post is also a good reminder that systems like this CAN work, even with difficult children.
  13. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    This has worked well for us in limited settings. We use it to target a specific behavior with some success, but an overall assignment for most things thru the day is too much for my difficult child.
  14. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    These kinds of charts never worked with our difficult child...

    She would rather spend hours and hours trying to figure out a way to fake the chart, rather than ten minutes just doing the chore.

    Last chart I had made required my signature next to the "check box" certify that Mom really had marked the chart. So, difficult child did her best to fake my signature.

    It was ridiculous!

    So a "no go" in my house...

    But how wonderful that it is working in yours!!! Way to go!!!!

  15. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    :rofl: (I know, I'm sick to laugh, but that's a page lifted right out of our family album!)
  16. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    gcv...I wish you had been here for my christmas letter one year. You would have loved it. I lost it when a host site went down. It was priceless.

    You know how Perfect Families send out those holiday letters telling what they have been up to all year and what their easy child kids have done all year? Well I was on something that month and wrote a letter fit for Saturday Night Live. Wish I had saved it. I had the music to Alabama's Christmas in Dixie in the I had something in there about how we were so proud because Cory had gone into the pharmaceutical distribution industry that year. It was just such a joyous occasion for us being that he was only 14. It takes most people a college education! LMAO.
  17. Robinboots

    Robinboots New Member

    Okay, Janet, THAT sounds hilarious!

    Charts, etc. don't work here either. Same old, same old, trying to figure out how to get out of something rather than just do it.
  18. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Janet, LOVE the spin on that! :rofl: Pharmaceutical industry... what a hoot!
  19. Star*

    Star* call 911


    I think that if you have found a system and have had the strength, and consistancy to make it work in your home then you are to be congratulated. Looking back over the last 15 years with my own son I wish I could find something that would have worked this well. Truth be told? Whenever anyone has posted a success like yours I find myself wanting to believe that their child was not as emotionally defunct as mine, lived the tragic circumstances as mine and therefore could not have possibly been saved by something seemingly as easy as you have described. In my heart I know that it's a twinge of jealousy, a tad of what did she do that I did not, and in the end? Really? I'm just so proud of you and moreso so tremendously happy for your son, that words just don't come easy enough to describe how my brain thinks - "Wow he just may make it." (tear) "He just MAY get it." - And not have to struggle like my son is still doing.

    I hope he continues to get it. I really do. I hope whatever you are doing, however long it has to continue in your home (because I really do know that it has not been easy, it's been very hard and long for you too) is something that can be shared with others that come along here and think - HEY I will try that. What have I got to loose? I will be consistent. I will find the will.

    For me, us? Ah....we did try a similar approach and many, countless others. My story is so long if I wrote it I fear the title would publish under Science Fiction. When the chart went up? It was great for about 2-3 days. Then Dude took a screwdriver and carved the chart up, then pried it off the wall, leaving gaping holes and took it outside and burned it. He threw the markers in the woods. So I (being prepared) printed out the chore chart and taped a copy up and did this for three months every day. Each day he tore it down and threw it away, flushed it in the commode, tore it up in little pieces, folded it up and put it in my sandwich for lunch one day - it was ridiculous. The next chart I created he took outside and urinated on. This went on for nearly six months. I had the tenacity of a pit bulls jaws...I just didn't have the wherewithall to continue wasting trees. ;) Then he was taken to the psychiatric hospital, got there, and did every single chore they asked him to do like magic. When they asked ME about a chore chart I sat and blinked like I was in a catatonic state. Not kidding. I think that was the 2nd time they put ME on AD's.

    I hope you continue to post your progress, and your ideas. I think they are wonderful, enlightening, and worth a try to anyone struggling to find a new way for some civility in their home. I think your new motto should be never give up. It's obvious you wont, and I'm glad you're here and one of the family!!!!!!

    Thanks for sharing.....hope you don't mind that I shared too....(didn't mean to scare you - I just really do have a humdinger of a 19 year old who was such a challenge) Was....who am I kidding!

    Hugs & Love
  20. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    We actually have a sort of points system working here. But if I ever tried to introduce anything where points earned could be taken away again - it would derail the whole thing. The main strength of our system is that points once earned can never be taken away. Never. But that CAN stop being earned!

    I think we each do what works for us, what fits out individual situation. I was posting yesterday (my time) on a thread by RobinBoots and I suggested a technique that would work brilliantly in our home. But clearly, it would be a disaster for her son. I suspect that if we swapped kids we each would struggle and have bigger problems!

    But that is how it is here on this site - it is a collective of different experiences and problems that spans the entire spectrum of possibilities. ALL the information pooled is valid and useful. So thank you for this very detailed and helpful description. It WILL be useful for those who are able to apply it.