At home we have a pom-pom jar (instead of a reward chart). Big O gets a pom-pom each time she listens well and does a task (the major ones like brushing teeth or whatever works for us at the time, really it’s just another form of bribery). When she gets to 10 she gets a small prize, when she fills the jar she gets a bigger prize. We try to keep it positive, more carrot than stick, but the threat of losing a pom-pom does come in useful at times. Suffice to say, it doesn’t always work.
Me: “Eat your peas, remember you’ll get a pom-pom.”
“Eat 5 spoonfuls” (5 is her favourite number….as she is 5. Everything must be 5.)
“2 spoonfuls O”
“OK 5 peas”
O: “Do I get a pom-pom in the jar?”
Me: “You only ate 5 peas!”
Then I bite my lip as I spoon the peas into her mouth whilst she watches some TV. “Wow look, you ate all your peas, good job, we can put a pom pom in the jar!”
O “Huh? Yeyyy, do I get a prize?”
Me: *sigh* “No, not yet, you need another 4”
O “Awwwuuu I wanted a prizeeeee.”
Me: “O…Pom-pom or no pom-pom??
I can’t tell if the whole pom-pom jar concept is helpful or if it just adds more to the mental exhaustion!
Occasionally this also happens:
O: “I WANT PRIZES”
Me: “But you can’t get a prize unless you have 10 pom poms.”
O: “BUT I WANT ONE NOOWWWW”
Me: “Well if you were behaving nicely you could have a pom-pom and when you have 10 of them, you can have a prize”
O: “AHHHHHH PRRRIIIZEEEEEE”
Me:”The way you are behaving at the moment will not get you anything”
After deciding I really wasn’t helping matters I left the general area of the 5 year old, and after 10 minutes of hearing occasionally semi distant grunting “AH”, “PRIZE” I heard a different voice, “Mummy can I do Aquabeads?” and that was that.
I really try to keep this going. Pom-poms for prizes, no other surprise gifts or you end up with comments like, “I still get things even if I’m naughty” (as her eyes glow red). There can be nothing else to take the shine off the value of a pompom. But then the grandparents enter the scene!
Every time my parents (who live around the corner) see the girls they give them presents. Often just children’s magazines with free rubbish attached. Before O even says hello she usually says “Have you got something for me?”
Occasionally my mother’s answer is “just my love” to which O will say,
“No really, where is it?”as she peers into my mum’s handbag.
Eventually she accepts the gift of love, but looks forward to the promise of next time.
I’m thinking we have it the wrong way around. Pretty sure it’s mums who should get rewarded for good behaviour. We should be mature enough to know how to behave of course, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t take great effort at times. Where’s my pom-pom? Where is my prize for not just staying in bed and refusing to move the entire day? I really think motherhood would be easier if there was some kind of reward concept. Of course “I love you mummy” and an unprompted cuddle is so very valuable, but I don’t mind a little bit of materialism now and then.
“Oh well done Mama you didn’t shout at me this time! Here is a pom-pom.”
“Oh well done Mama you didn’t throw my dinner across the room when I refused to eat it. Here is a pom-pom.”
“Well done mama, thanks for not just letting my teeth rot, here is a pom-pom.”
“Well done Mama good job, you got 10 more, here is a Mulberry purse.”
“Oooooh you really are a good Mama aren’t you, you filled the whole jar, here is a Chloe Handbag.”
Yes, I think I could tolerate that.