behavior modification chore chartFor every remark that I publicly make about something incredibly adorable that W has done there are 20+ moments where things are challenging. This is not anything especially unique to W. In fact I imagine that if you have or have had a toddler you know very well the ebb and flow of moods of these little short stacks.

W has always been a wonderfully emotional being. He loves in a huge way and he gets frustrated in a huge way and he gets sad in a huge way. This is who he is. He feels, but he also empathizes. I can not tell you how thrilling it is to see him adore someone or something.

Where things become difficult is when the emotions are so large that they go beyond his words or ability to express himself without being physical.

He has a sweet fondness for a friend at school’s little brother. He has watched this baby grow and he gets so excited to see him waddling about on the playground. However I have to keep a careful eye on W to make sure he doesn’t get TOO excited. W’s enthusiastic hello is fine for a kid that matches W’s size, but this wee guy is just a wee guy and a bear hug from W would be a disaster.

W’s size is also, for lack of a better word, an issue, when he gets frustrated. There are no small gestures. He erupts.

His teachers at school have been amazing at guiding him into better ways to cope with his emotions when they become too large for him. He is slowly starting to connect the dots when it comes to actions and reactions. When I pick W up from school I hope so hard for a good report. Good report for us would be: no time outs, no hitting, listening, following directions, sharing…

We talk a lot about his days. We go over events, if there were any, and how he reacted vs a better way to react. When he is calm he gets it. It makes sense. But in the moment, well, it isn’t always so easy. And I get that.

Before the holiday break W’s teachers told me that they wanted to try to do a rewards system with him at school. They recognize that W responds to rewards for good behavior vs time outs for not good behavior. Since I knew they were going to be doing this at school I decided to do a similar thing at home. W loves a job, an assignment, and being a helper.

I created a chore chart for him that really is just a list of all of the things that W does during the day – but with a twist. Instead of just “eat breakfast” it is “help with breakfast”. It is less about the task and more about HOW he does the task. No sticker is given for just eating cereal, but he now knows that if he cleans up his bowl and puts things away at breakfast that he does get a sticker.

This has been SO HUGE for us. Now W says stuff like, “I am going to play with all of my cars and when I clean up I can get a sticker!”

At every meal we sit down and go over the chart: I put stickers in the boxes and we talk about what else is on his list for the day. We tally up how many stickers he received each day and we work towards a BIG PRIZE. Last week his goal was 25 stickers to get a chocolate banana smoothie from WaWa. Now we are working towards a visit to the aquarium.

This week I picked W up from school and was so thrilled to hear that he had a wonderful day. The look on W’s face was poetry. He just beamed with pride and happiness. Is every day a wonderful behavior day? No. But there have been so many more wonderful behavior moments. I am so thrilled for and proud of him.

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