Thursday, August 18, 2011

PSA: A fun parenting/behavior modification technique!

As I was trying to organize the school things this morning, I came across some notebooks I had forgotten about that reminded me of another thing I do to modify unpleasant behavior.

The children CONSTANTLY often complain about various things, so when that starts to get on my nerves, I quietly start writing their complaints down in a special notebook I keep for this very purpose, labelled "(Child)'s Complaint Book".  They are just the basic, wire-bound notebooks (WHICH JUST HAPPEN TO BE ON SALE RIGHT NOW (although I'd absolutely be willing to pay full-price for this purpose if I had to) IF YOU NEED SOME!).  I do this in a notebook for two reasons.  First, it is easy to keep track of, and, second, it is REALLY funny to go back after a few months and read what they were complaining about!  Examples of ACTUAL, past complaints, in their original format, at my house: 

  • I didn't want to have a race.
  • I don't want to wipe everything!
  • I don't want to write 100 things
  • you mean I have to write all of them before I can enjoy any privileges!?
  • I don't want to write 7's!
  • I don't want to read it out loud!
  • Why don't you want even the tiniest bit of food on my shirt?

(Unfortunately, quite a few of Ian's complaints are missing because he is pretty hard on his notebooks, and it is hard to find the notebooks that don't have the easy tear out feature.)

  • I don't like that I have to read it.
  • I just don't like this new chart!
  • I don't want to copy the words!
  • I just don't like it!  No!
  • I can't scrub that hard!  I can't!
  • I don't want to!  I'm staying outside!
  • I just can't do it!  I'm just having such a hard day!
  • Mom, it's too big!  I want to play a game first!  I'm just too little to do this!  I just need a day off!
  • I want dice math!
  • I want it!  I just need that ruler!
  • No I won't!
  • Why can we only have 1?  I want TWO grilled cheese sandwiches!  Why?

(Note:  some complaints are disguised as questions!  Do not hesitate to write down ANYTHING that is a complaint, no matter how it is disguised!)

ANYWAY.  So, I write the complaints down all day, and the next time the child wants ANYTHING (snack, meal, television time, computer time, any electronic time, play with friends, etc...) I say something like, "I didn't enjoy listening to you complain all day, so, to help you remember how unpleasant that is for me, you get to write every one of your complaints (X) times before you can (do whatever they wanted to do)."  I determine the number of times they need to write each complaint based on:  their personality, abilities, and number of complaints: 
*usually 1-2 times, per complaint, for those who are just learning to write, or are stubborn as a mule, or are ALWAYS in trouble
*somewhere between 5-10 times per complaint for those who know how to write and just need to be reminded that complaining is obnoxious.

So!  Get out a notebook and a writing instrument and ENJOY the complaining today!  Picture the look of COMPLETE DISBELIEF on your child's face when you hand him/her the notebook and explain the new consequence for complaining at your house =)!


PinkieBling said...

This is a GREAT idea! Thanks for sharing.

Becky said...

I LOVE this!

Erica said...

This is positively DIABOLICAL!

Superjules said...


Mama Bub said...

I can't WAIT for my kids to be able to write.

Gina said...

A reduction in complaining *and* writing practice all in one! I am going to have to try this.