I am going to preface this with letting you all know I do not believe in statements like “Nothing works on my kid he just throws fits until I give him what he wants.” That is a load of crap, and not the good kind that can be used for growing lush gardens. When my kids are suddenly acting like shit bags I know it is because I have put my parenting on cruise control. The flare ups of shittastic behavior reminds me to put my foot on the gas, and pay attention to the road.
Kids like structure.
Lady Baby is in full beast mode. She gets so mad her little face shakes as she screams and clenches her fists until her fingers go white. Ahh, the entry into toddlerhood. When OG baby made his way into this stage of life I came up with this happy face sad face idea. Here is how it works.
1. Make a bunch of happy and sad faces. Seriously you do not have to get all fancy with this. With OG I used index cards cut in half and stuck those little magnet circles on the back of them. I have some at the bottom of the post you can download if you want something more fun.
2. When toddler monster does something shitty you warn ONCE. When toddler monster does something shitty again you give them a sad face. When they accumulate three sad faces they lose something. For Lady Baby it has been her bed friends. She has one bed friend she loves the most and I do not take it away. That is reserved for extreme offenses.
3. When the little beast turns back into your sweet little baby you hand out a smiley face. Three smiley faces equals a prize. I like to confiscate toys that the kids don’t like to put away. Lady Baby had her first experience with the confiscation bucket recently.
I asked her to pick up her toys. She refused. I set the timer for 10 minutes to give her the opportunity to pick up. She did not. All the toys on the floor went in confiscation. She was overcome with sadness, which made me sad, but shit has to get done.
For smiley face earns I also get little things like little stickers or stamps. Lady Baby goes ape shit for stamps, especially if I put them on her feet.
The Smiley faces are the most important. You need to give them out and on some days liberally. They feel proud to EARN their stuff back. Lady Baby has spent the day telling anyone who will listen that she will earn back her elephant.
The thing is you can not stop doing this. Consistency is the key. When you first start they might get pissed, or throw a tantrum. You have to expect that. You are trying to change their behavior and they do not want to let go of the old way of doing things. It is a complete tug of war, and you better not drop your end, or you will always be the one with mud on your face.
If weeks go by and there is not a sad face in sight then you might be able to scale back, but if the behavior flares up again then follow steps 1-3 again. It is just a never ending dance of round and round.
The other thing you have to do is get excited. BE so excited when they earn a smiley face, cheer them on. They are really just monster size babies. They have emotions that are to strong to hold in, and when they feel your excitement they will feel the same way.
Is this sometimes inconvenient? Like on those days where I am stuck in my pre historic nostalgia for the days spent eating shows on Netflix, and not existing.
Super inconvenient, but having a little shit stain for a kid is far more inconvenient.
Somedays I also need to use timeouts. When Lady Baby is off the chart rude. Pretending to be Chun Li form Street Fighter using her super kick to send the other kids running for their lives. Time out is something I use in conjunction with the faces.
Mind you this is just what worked for me. I’m not the infomercial telling you I can make your dreams come true, but it’s worth a try.
Feel free to download these faces, or have fun making your own!