Before I was a parent, I always said that I didn’t like ‘bribing’ children with reward charts and incentives, that it wasn’t good for them- it would teach acceptable behaviour could be achieved only by rewards, that there was such a thing as ‘acceptable behaviours’ at all…..
but with our two, I have to ignore all of that!
Experience has taught us a hundred times that the Murray chids only behave in a way that doesn’t make us cry when bribed! They need concrete patterns of behaviour and language taught, modelled, demonstrated. They need to know that there is a good enough reason for them to think outside their own ego’s. They must see the benefits from doing as we ask them.
We also know how easy it is to get stuck in a rut where we feel we are nagging and being negative.
With this is mind, and our circumstances making family life even more complicated than usual (I have a chronic health condition that renders me in bed or in hospital very regularly, and Iain as a result is trying to work from home setting up a business that fits around all the care he has to offer us all), we wanted a plan for the summer holiday. A plan that mean nobody got killed!
Both kids are avid Harry Potter fans, so it seemed a good bet. We discussed between ourselves whether it was better to encourage team work and have us in matched houses, but both chids are on the ASD Spectrum, do they’re not really team players!
Thus, “Murraywarts” was devised. We each picked a house- Isla and Lucas surprised us by picking Slytherin (Isla), and Ravenclaw (Lucas), Iain stole Gryffindor which meant that I (quite aptly as I have Brittle Asthma) got Hufflepuff.
Through the summer, we had an “eating meeting” every dinner time, and awarded each other points for everything that we had done well that day- helping each other, being kind, making food, tidying up, coping with ‘tricky things’ (new experiences, frustrations, sensory overloads). The only time you lost a point was if you hurt someone. I lagged behind most of the summer, which was bittersweet really. I was ill in bed scoring none, or doing all the chores and care and scoring lots. Lucas was consistently a high scorer- he has grown up so much, manages his teenage and medical hormonal shifts so well, and took a very caring role with Isla and I. Iain scored well when I was in bed but poorly when he was working (the irony!), and Isla fluctuated madly day to day, which is a fair reflection of how she was feeling this summer- terrified about starting a new school, worried about me, her love/hate relationship with Iain (they are so similar!).
The final scores were very tense. We discussed Isla’s inability to cope with not winning, but decided it would be really unfair to Lucas to not recognise all he had achieved, and also to Isla to let her win if she hadn’t earned it, so at the end of the summer Lucas was First, Isla was Runner Up, and by chance Iain and I were joint third. Isla took it badly- she had the mother of all meltdowns, but she did calm down, and Lucas was a truly gracious winner.
Today was our celebration, with prizes, a movie bonanza (Chamber of Secrets and The Prisoner of Azkabhan), cakes, costumes, wands and lots more. Lucas is now fast asleep having had an awesome day, Isla is awake fretting about school, but has declared our Murraywarts day “perfect”.
Here are some photos of the day:
I ponder the effect this style of parenting has. Am I teaching them to do things only for rewards? Am I spoiling them? Will they remember this? Is it worth it? But it’s ok, because I found a trite, slightly-nauseating quote on Pinterest that makes me feel better!
Love Sarah xx
p.s- I can’t submit this without telling you that the mess in the background isn’t our mess, but collections for the refugees in Calais. I can bare my soul and discuss my children’s diagnoses, but I can’t let you think we’re really messy!!