This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Consequences versus Privileges

We had a family meeting about the fact that the kids weren't doing their chores. I was frustrated by the fact that I felt one of the reasons they don't bother with them was because there were few (obvious) consequences to skipped chores. I feel the kids aren't "getting" the fact that there are long-term consequences to their choices, and we needed to make the consequences more immediate and obvious.

So we sat with the kids and started brainstorming what consequences there should be. Here's what they came up with:

  • 4 Foot Rule - this one surprised me. Basically they felt if someone wasn't doing his or her chores then they need to stay near a parent. They also said the person shouldn't be able to hang out/ isolate in their room.
  • Homework (a frequent excuse for not having time to do chores) can't be done in bedroom, must be done in a common area with supervision.
  • Soup Kitchen - this one is very effective with Kitty. Maybe too effective because it's mere mention triggers her somewhat.
  • Eating at the Table - in our house we rarely eat at the dining room table. (Yes, we are horrible parents who allow our children to eat in front of the TV, but at least we all eat at the same time so we're still together.) Those eating at the table are not able to watch TV and would be eating with a parent.
  • No Electronics - no TV, computer, Play Station...
  • Extra chores
  • 750 word essay on why it's important to do chores
  • Saturday Do All Undone Chores
  • No friends over or going to friend's houses.
  • 2 Days Conseuqences - Whatever the consequences chosen will last the equivalent of "2 days." That means if they skip a late evening chore and of course dinner is already over then the following two days they'll have to eat their soup at the dining room table. If it's a morning chore then they might be done with their consequence after the following day.
  • Mom gets to choose what the consequence will be.

We talked about some changes to the chore chart - for example on Wednesdays we all do volunteer work in the eveningso I changed it from bathrooms to bedrooms (which can be done in the mornings or throughout the week and they're the only one that would mess up their own room).

After our family meeting I had dropped off the littles and was driving to meet Hubby and Bear at Bear's therapy, when all of the sudden I suddenly realized the focus shouldn't be on punishments and consequences, but on earning privileges.

Eating in the family room in front of TV is a privilege. Electronics are a privilege. The rule is already that you can't turn on the electronics until your chores are done, but we tend to let it slide after the majority of the kids' have their chores done. Kitty (one of the worst offenders when it comes to not doing chores) tends to head straight out to the backyard to destress when she gets home, by the time she comes back in the other kids are done and the next thing I know she's watching TV.

Bear is my second worst offender, but most of his chores are late evening chores or not always totally noticeable if he pretends he did it (he's not a clutter bug like Kitty and he's been known to hide things from the room he's cleaning in someone else's space). He also doesn't care much about TV or being isolated. For him having to do the writing assignment would be huge, but of course that's a punishment not a privilege. Hmmmm....

So I think I need to be focused on enforcing our family rules with an emphasis on earning privileges.


RADMomINohio said...

I like how you had the family meeting so the kids are coming up with setting their own consequences which demonstrates how significant not doing their chores and "being part of the family" is for everyone. That's how I see it anyway. It's not like "Mom, it's no big deal if I don't do that..." It is a big deal. But I totally agree with you that it could easily appear like punishments depend on how you spin in. They are not being punished but not being rewarded with privileges. It's all how you spin it and your word choices. It is so easy to get caught up in the negativity of consequences. I know I do. Also, what you might want to try to do, something that works for Penelope and I - I have a white board hung in our hall outside her door, but paper would work fine. I list our chores, including mine so she sees it's about being part of family and not some violation of a child labor law (she's made such accusations before!) One column for her and one column for me. I break out the chores into some detail so there is more to cross off when done, but not too much to overwhelm. Part of the act of crossing it off the list is rewarding. Plus, I also make her let me know when SHE thinks a chore is done so that I can check it. As the MOM/BOSS I decide if the chore meets expectations. It can be time consuming but it reinforces "who's the boss" issue as well as gives me an opportunity to reward her for a job well done - even when it's not complete. "Wow! This room looks so much better! Now if that desk was cleaned off, I could say it's done. I can't wait to see how nice it will look when it's done.. Let me know when I can check it again." Stuff like that.

Mama Drama Times Two said...

I can't decide if I should have my kids read your consequence list - or just send my kids to live with you for a few weeks... Hmmmm. Since I like you, I'll just have them read your post. Oh - have you gotten in touch with Annie yet???- she has your tickets.

marythemom said...

RADMom- thanks! On our chore chart we have checklists for each child, for each day, with chores broken down into smaller components (instead of just saying "clean room" - it says things like OWN ROOM - __pick up/ dust, __vacuum , __room trash, __strip and make bed, __put away clothes. Each component has a spot for the child to check off, and if they don't do it then I X through the item. If they don't do it but check that they did, then I usually write LIE on it. At the end of the week I total their earned allowance and write it on the next week's chart. We make fairly frequent changes to the chart so each week I print out a new chart.

Mama Drama x2 - Just to be clear, this was a brainstorming list of possible options, definitely not all of them would happen every time! They are pretty much all options we've used in the past though, but it depended on the child and what they could handle and what was most effective.

Yes, I've contacted Annie. I'm going to meet her there I think. I've found someone to go with too (she lives in San Antonio so she's going to let me crash there and I won't have to pay for a hotel room! Yea!). THANK YOU!! THANK YOU for the tickets!!

Mary in TX