Once you breathe through your frustration and allow your children to continue their existence it's often helpful to reset. Think back to the last time it (whatever that may be) worked. Than get resourceful. Sounds so simple. I think we were beating a dead horse. Losing privileges wasn't helping one bit towards correcting behavior.
I regrouped, instead of threatening privilege loss I started offering multiple allowance bonus opportunities. They must not have been immediately gratifying enough or maybe not visual enough?!? In the beginning of summer earning free play and bonus allowance worked great. We'd skip merrily from task to task banking a few cents here and there. Playing every few hours. August has become the month of dragging feet, deception, nasty tones and repeated tasks.
So, after I let yesterday disappoint me to tears by bedtime I reset. Mike suggested having computer time start and end at set time everyday. That way if Isaac's done with what he's supposed to do he can play guaranteed and if not he misses out, but no one gives it or takes it. I also informed Isaac that we'd been planing a Lego Land trip and he needed to earn it.
None of that had an effect at first. His 15-20min of revisions to his story took 3hours this morning. So, I took out a piece of construction paper and made a board game style path with a Start spot and a star at the end that says Lego Land. I wrote around the path FOCUS, RESPECT, RESPONSIBILITY and PROBLEM SOLVING in bright colors. I taped the chart on the white board right in front of him.
We discussed specific examples of each behavior. Even though we'd gone over it until I'm blue in the face I wrote out "Problem Solving Expectations." He's so comfy in dependence it's frightening.
Problem Solving Expectations
- TRY to solve your problem yourself.
- If you're really stuck, do everything you can do yourself. Don't loose focus.
- Try Again! Sometimes a second look is all it takes.
- If you still can't crack it, ask for help respectfully.
I also added a start time, time task is expected to take and goal finished to the board. We started with a section of Summer Bridge. I gave him a goal of 15min, it had 4 sections. He was done in 12min, all answers were correct and legible! What do you know. He was beaming when he added the sticker to his reward chart.
Then while I was patting myself on the back, Isaac decided to give up. I gave him 15 simple math problems. Did two with him and left him with an expectation that they'd be done in 30min. In 45 the first 10 were, but only half were correct even though I let him look back at his charts. He just stopped trying after the first 5. I asked if he had any questions, did another one with him to make sure and then advised him to re-write the ones he was correcting on fresh paper.
Two hours and two crying fits (his not mine) later he finished them. Maybe the rewards chart doesn't work?!? Maybe despite my influence and efforts I am raising a dependent, quitter. How can it be? I made a huge deal about the first 5 being absolutely perfect so he knew it was a focus problem NOT a math issue. He has become a proficient divider this summer, the little amoeba.
How will I survive teen age angst and (gulp) girlfriends if a little math at 9yrs old is this stressful? I guess I could let it be between him and the teacher, but he's so close to being confident in some of these concepts. I want his remaining elementary school years to be productive and fun.