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something different
wednesday, february 9, 2005

the teenager years can be quite a challenge, even for the best parents. we kinda lucked out with our oldest. she had her problems, drove us up the wall more than once, but she has a good, sensible head on her shoulders. even then, she has done a thing or two we're still not happy about, but she's managed to become quite the young lady and is doing fine, and is learning to make her own choices. she's doing very well indeed.

but every parent with more than one kid, even of the same gender, will tell you that every child is different and what one kid responds to another may not respond to so well, if at all. and that's been the case with us. jewel just isn't responding to the same things that kitten responded to at all. she freaks out about these the consequences and punishment, but it otherwise doesn't seem to phase her. she still does the same stuff that got her into trouble in the first place. we're to the point now that she's grounded practically through to summer, it's gotten so bad.

so, it's time to try something different.

saxy and i talked and we decided on a behavior tracking system, with certain rewards and consequences. by using a daily check system, combined with a weekly tracker, we're hoping she can finally get a handle on what's going on and modify her behavior. grounding is no longer in the system at this point, the consequences are fairly immediate, and the rewards build up over the week. once we discussed some of the options, we sat down and talked with her about it. she says she thinks the new system is fair and came up with a few other possibilities for rewards that we're going to think about trying to work in.

for each day now, i print out a page that has three sections. the first section is her chores for after school. those must be checked off at the end of the day. the second one covers the behavior issues we've been having. those are not to be checked off. if they are, they start removing her privileges and rewards. if she misses one of the chores, it's the same thing - they start removing her privileges and rewards. the bottom section contains a list of the rewards and consequences and the order in which they are received or taken away.

we've given her a clean slate - no grounding, phone privileges are restored, tv show privileges are restored, and so on. if she has a good day - all her chores are done and no attitude checks - she gets an hour or more of non-school related computer time. if she has a good week, she gets a little extra tv time. if she gets her weekend chores all done by a certain time, she can spend sunday afternoon at a friend's house. if she starts missing chores or has an attitude check, first she loses the chance for the extra pc time. her second offense loses her phone privileges for that night. a third problem counts against the extra tv time at the end of the week. a fourth issue puts her to bed. and, of course, we reserve the right to tell her to get off the phone if we see her developing a problem while talking to her friends, or to ground her or whatever for serious offenses. we've also stated that doing something she's not supposed to when we're gone (such as talking on the phone) will automatically lose her a privilege that day and count against her weekly reward. three bad counts and no extra tv time. each day counts as new except for the weekly reward.

we're also using a weekly tracker that we circle how she did for each day of the week. did she get her chores done? were there problems? how far in did she get on the consequences? and for friday and sunday, there are checks for the rewards. does she get the extra tv time? does she get the afternoon at a friend's house?

i really hope the immediacy and visual quality of this system helps us deal with the issues that we're having with her. we don't have too much longer before this girl is able to go out on her own and has to make it out in the world. she won't be able to with the way she's been acting of late - no way she could keep a job with an attitude like the one she's been developing. i know all kids go through it, and some of it is probably from influences at school, but it's my job to try to get her on the level.

and hopefully this is something just different enough that will work for her.

word of the moment: campestral

of or relating to fields or open country; rural

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