This year I struggled a bit with wanting to start the school year. Last year the whining and complaining, huffing and puffing, rolling the eyes and slamming into the chair stuff really was wearing me thin by the end of the year. I was not anxious to start again. I wanted to enjoy my children, but this attitude junk definitely did not spell out enjoyment. It stressed me and made me anxious to just let them loose so I could get away from them.
I worked and worked at not letting these attitudes occur. There was discipline. There were gentle reminders and sometimes not so gentle reminders. There was practice of a proper response after an inappropriate response. There were Scriptures memorized. Despite my efforts it felt like I was banging my head against the wall. Children can unwillingly conform on the outside, but the attitude still dwells on the inside. It continues to seep out, but many times it just spills out all over.
We have had to deal with so much negative with a couple children that I felt we needed a positive incentive to encourage better attitudes. Also, I needed something with both short and long term reward. I needed the short term reward because some of my children are all about immediate gratification. They give up easily and decide it's not worth the work if there is not an immediate benefit. On the other hand, I needed a long term reward to teach them that it pays off to create a habit of having a good attitude. In addition, they desperately need to learn the value of delayed gratification.
I'm happy to report that so far we are having astonishing results with our new plan. Our child with RAD is exhibiting a control of his attitude that I was not sure was possible. Instead of spending time trying to control me, he is working on controlling himself. I am filled with thankfulness to God. Our plan is called the "Attitude Check."
To keep them from getting discouraged and giving up once they get one check, I have provided an added incentive. If they can go all week with three or less checks on the chart then they get the privilege of enjoying 2 hours of game time on our electronic devices together with their siblings on the weekend. Our children have very limited time and access to their gaming devices so this is a BIG deal to them.
I share this because it has created a much friendlier learning environment in our home. Typically I shy away from anything that may seem like it is bribing children to behave. My prayer always is that their behavior grows and changes as an overflow of God's work in their hearts. However, in this case it seemed we had slipped into a habit. The habit needed broken. Scripture tells us to "encourage one another." This is my way of encouraging my children to check those attitudes.