Having had four kids, I’ve worked out that one of best ways to get them to do what I want, is with sticker charts. I discovered this fact when Joni was around three years old. She didn’t want to use the toilet for a number two. A friend passed on the suggestion. She’d had it from her health visitor, having had the same problem with her son.
Joni subscribes to this blog, so I’ll say publicly at this point, sorry for discussing your number two’s in public. Or in this case, the lack of them. On the toilet anyhow.
Throughout the years sticker charts have encouraged my children in assorted areas of life: from doing homework, to household chores, to stopping bed-wetting.
Initially, after the set amount of stickers had been collected, a prize would be given. A ‘present’. The rewards have changed over the years, for instance, at some point they received ‘pocket money’. Of late, the older children have earned ‘special time’ with one parent. We felt this to be of particular value, being a larger family. We’d set off for the cinema or go swimming or maybe even for a bite to eat.
Recently, we decided to start with Akasha’s first sticker chart. To ‘encourage’ her to use the toilet. We decided to give a gift on completion of her chart, as it had originally worked wonders with the other children.
Our toilet training, to be honest, has been somewhat sporadic. Mainly due to my lack of time at home. I’ve found it difficult to stay constant between trips to the doctor, or the hospital, or the shops. Picking up kids and dropping them off with a toilet training youngster is never going to be easy. And at times of stress, I have a tendency to opt for the easy-way-out, in this case: the reliable pull-up.
The beauty of the pull-up is that in times of crises it serves as a nappy, but the child can also use them as pants and sit on the toilet whenever he or she wants to.
Sounds great. But in reality I do believe that it has the tendency to drag the whole process out. I know that if I’d had the opportunity to stay at home for a couple of weeks and put up with mess and yuckiness, we’d have been home and dry a long time ago. Although, I do admit that the older she has become the better her bladder control, thus a less painful experience for all involved.
Akasha now having reached the age of three; I’ve found myself pushing a little more on the use of the toilet. Inevitably leading to me selling the ‘present’ she would receive on completion of her chart.
A couple of months ago the sticker tin disappeared, so far, never to be found again. Such things constantly happen in our home. Leading to the common discussion of the bogey man, but that’s another story.
The effect was transparent. The loo rendered useless by Akasha, as no stickers were acquired. In panic, my pen drew two dotty eyes and a curvy line mouth on the chart to replace the lost stickers. Akasha smiled once again and the toilet training process continued.
I want to tell you at this point that I cannot draw at all. I am the most talentless artist on the planet. I claim that prize. I attempt a picture, and even I have trouble deciphering what it is. A horrible point comes when my children have reached around the age of five and have ascertained that they can actually draw better than their poor old mum. When they’ve said the likes of, “That’s not a cat mum, look this is how you draw a cat.” Or even worse, “What’s that?” and I say, for example, “It’s a tractor!” and a disgusted face looks back and simply says, “No it’s not.” At that point I’ve always known the time has come, to put my pencil down. It’s had its day.
But I digress.
So, my husband returns home from work and sees my shameful efforts and continues with our progress along the sticker chart. The problem for me is that he can draw. He sketches little cheeky faces with tongues sticking out and googly eyes. And in the morning poor little Akasha is dumped back on me and my inabilities. The look says it all. She demands extras: hair and tongues, even teeth. I do my best, but now there’s some sort of monster looming out of the wall. I feel her wrath.
A couple of days later she enters the kitchen, sticker chart in hand and exclaims, “I’ve finished my sticker chart! I need a present!” I am confused. Yesterday, it was just half full? On close inspection I discover every little box has a carefully placed happy face by a three-year old hand. If they hadn’t been a little wobbly, I could have been convinced the designs were mine.
She is the first of all the children to manipulate a chart.
I try to tell her it is cheating. Luckily, I have bought some new stickers, and as well as saving my own embarrassment, I can cover-up Akasha’s faces with earned stickers. Part of me so wants to give her a gift as I’m secretly proud. But I keep up my stern mummy act and later brag to my husband.
We genuinely reach the end of her chart and she achieves her much wished for present and then we start all over again.
A brand new chart is hung on the wall.
Suddenly, it’s half full of stickers, all neatly placed and all the right way round.
I’m shocked. The precision is amazing, but I know that she’s been at it again. In front of her I remove a few of the stickers, (softy that I am, I do actually leave a few extra ones). I tell her if she does it again, I’ll be forced to take down the chart and she’ll have to start again. I want my children to understand right from wrong. So I know in my heart this is an important lesson. But it stings. She seems to understand and is huffy for a few moments, but then is fine.
Later she comes and tells me she wants to be good. We hug.
On the toilet last week, she did a number two. I stood there armed with sticker, and placed it on her command. She remained on the toilet and did a second number two, and tried to convince me she earned herself a second sticker… 🙂
Then, yesterday, she took me to the bathroom while she did a little pee. She tells me it’s a, “Baby one.” Stands up. Watches me place her sticker and then promptly sits back down and reveals that she’ll now proceed to the, “Mama pee”.
I swear, she stopped mid flow, like those exercises after childbirth, held it, stood, pants at her ankles, and then controllably sat back down and peed the rest out. All in the hope of an extra sticker.
When that didn’t work she left the bathroom, returning a few minutes later to try to force out a pooh. Goal failed, she rejoined her playthings.
You’ll be pleased to know she has her prize now and a new chart. I’ll need to rush out straight-away and buy her another present…