Eric, who turned 6 this summer, has had…a rough time of it. He loves his friends, his school, his routine, and none of those things were readily available this summer! Add in a whole lot of heat keeping us inside, a new baby brother taking a lot of attention, and having to accommodate outings for Danny, and it’s been…something.
There have been 3 things that have really helped us get through this summer without going insane. I put all 3 to use at around the same time, and it was amazing the change in Eric’s behavior! He is still strong willed and full of attitude, but it isn’t nearly as constant or as biting as it used to be, nor is he as close to anger (or tears) all the time.
The first is simply a bit of an afternoon structure tailored for him. Every afternoon during the week, he does “rest time.” This is not to be confused with “quiet time” (our time out), but it’s basically the same: he has to go up to his room and spend half an hour chilling out. His method of choice is to grab a book or three and climb into bed. He doesn’t have to – he could be in Danny’s bed, he could hang out in his bean bag, he could play with his toys up there quietly – but he needs to be away, alone, and unplugged. (Music doesn’t count as unplugged though, he can put on a CD if he wants to.) After that, we sit down at the table together. I picked up a few activity books at the teacher’s store, and we’ve been working through one about telling time. We do a few pages of that, and he does a few pages of connect-the-dots, one of his current favorites. Sometimes I get him to write in the journal that school sent home, but not often – he’s not a big fan of that yet, and I don’t like to push him and make him do it spitefully.
The second thing started as a system of rewards and punishments, though it quickly morphed into my boredom buster. We went through a period, at about the middle of summer break, of “I’m bored!” “It’s boring!” “I have nothing to do!” So, in response, I bought a collection of colored popsicle sticks at Walmart and took out the red, yellow, and green ones. I keep them in the bottom half of a plastic sunflower seeds container with a sheet of construction paper taped around the inside, because that is how classy I am (and it was the best thing I could come up with at the time). The main thing I needed was something to hold them together closely and to block off the view of the bottoms, because on the bottoms most of them have something written on them. Red ones have chores on them – sweep the kitchen, dust the living room, etc. These are for when he’s seriously out of line and I need to get him to do something to calm down and get out of whatever mood he’s in. Yellow ones have activities on them – playdough, blocks, read a book, draw a picture, write a note, that sort of thing. The original intention was for me to send him to get one whenever he was complaining that he was bored, but he thought they were cool enough that he just uses them on his own to come up with ideas of things to do! I never have to send him for one now, he just does it himself. Green ones are rewards for particularly good stuff, like exceptional behavior out of the house, going above and beyond helping, etc. Most of the green ones are blank, and he gets to collect them to earn tattoos or extra video game time – but one or two have an instant reward on them, just to add to the fun. He really digs it, and sometimes he’ll stop and ask if he’s doing well enough to “earn a green.”
The third and best thing I have in the house is this little guy. We use the timer for everything it seems! I got it mostly to track video game time; Eric’s behavior seems to crash if he’s played too much video games, and I’d been trying just to wing keeping a handle on it…but I was failing pretty miserably. Enter the timer. Eric respects the timer in a way he doesn’t respect me just saying, “Time to stop!” If I tell him to stop, I get whining and complaining and stomping. If the timer turns red? He shuts it off. “Mommy, it turned red – I’m going to go ___ now!” I do let him wiggle it a little – I’ll let him get to a saving point in the game – but it’s worked great. We use it, also, to time rest time and time outs, to moderate turn taking, you name it. I like this particular one because it has a yellow “warning” light that we can set for the last 5 or 10 minutes, so he knows the end is coming…but I don’t really like that you can’t see how much time has elapsed otherwise.
What are some things you’ve done to help establish order this summer?
(Linking up to Let’s Hear it For the Boys!)
Oh I use the timer for video games too, it certainly works better than me telling him to turn it off! The popsicle sticks is a great idea, I will definitely have to try it. My boys love to play outside, I find the more they play outside the more they are well behaved when they come inside. We are not in a hot climate though (Canada) so they try to enjoy the good weather while we have it! Linking up through No Ordinary Blog Hop
Oh, Heidi, I agree about playing outside improving their mood vastly! I grew up in Canada, and it’s a bit of a trade off. This summer, we had to stay in more because of extreme heat – but I can kick them out in the back yard longer into the winter than you can up north!
Your mode of telling the whole thing in this post is really pleasant, every one can without difficulty be aware of it, Thanks a lot.|