little rewards

Stickers. M&Ms. Popsicles (aka. frozen GoGurts). Bubbles. And now donuts. All the little pieces in Miss L’s reward system of trials and errors.

Having experience as a classroom teacher truly teaches you a lot about parenting and kids, and one of those important lessons is the value of incentives vs. punishments. Try and run a classroom on a rules/punishment system alone. It won’t be pretty. Change it to a positive incentive program with the same rules, and you’ll flip a classroom of rowdy 8th graders in South LA on their heads. And trust me, if it works on 8th graders, then it’s certain to work on little 2.5 year olds. :)

We did the “M&M” trick for potty training. 1 for #1 and 3 for #2. We had a cute little push-button dispenser always full of M&Ms in the downstairs bathroom. And we even had personalized ones with her face on them care of a Christmas present from Mother & Father M. It worked like a charm. And when we bought stacks and stacks of Hello Kitty! and Princess underwear… the M&Ms went away and we didn’t need them anymore.

Now we’re at the “stay dry in bed” stage. And that gets rewarded with 1/2 of a donut. A little much? Maybe… but it’s the only treat she’s getting all day and it fit well as a top o’the morning treat to celebrate the success. And as success has happened more often than not… the importance of the reward fades too… and will slowly wean away.

I’ve stocked multiple upstairs and downstairs drawers with stickers for all sorts of mini “HOORAY!” and “THANK YOU L!” moments.

Yet her favorite reward… when she sits still through cutting her fingernails and toenails (a big feat for a little one)… she gets them painted. We often pick out crazy new colors when we make a visit to Target, so she’s got about 6 different colors to choose from right now.

Any other mommas out there with awesome incentive system tricks to share? The only downside of this non-teaching gig is that you can’t repeat your wonderful tricks year after year…