Monday, December 6, 2010

Sticker Shock

I am a sticker chart failure.  A Smiley Face dropout.  I admit defeat.  I give.

 I. Say. "Uncle."

At the start of this thing, I had excellent intentions.  I wanted to help my children become better people.  Better listeners, better helpers, better friends.  I wanted my children to learn lessons about "earning" privileges.  I wanted them to see the connection between their behavior and the outcome. 

I attempted to do this in a primarily positive way and enlisted the help of my sister, who regularly acts as my on-call behavior specialist.  Her ideas were excellent but somewhere in the follow through I got lost. 

Somewhere between rewarding my voluminous 6 year old for using his "inside voice" and finding the strength to NOT THROTTLE my "terrible 2 year old" I lose my way. 

I want to be able to reward the good behavior with a sticker when I "catch them being good" but this escapes me as the little one, who is experimenting with both tantrums and testing the limits of gravity, hurls herself repeatedly out of her time-out seat onto the floor.   

In these moments, I see RED.  

I just lose my shit. 

There is yelling and and there are threats. 

Unattainable demands and impossible consequences. 

"If I hear one more sound you are going to bed for the rest of the day."  It is 6AM.

And there the sticker charts hang.  Impotent.  Forgotten.  A daily reminder of how I fall short hanging inside the cabinet.  I glance up, shake my head.  I could add a few smiley's, a few stickers, but why? 

The chart was just fine, it was the user who failed. It was my failure to hold them accountable, to teach them the benefits of making good choices. I was missing something in translation from adult expecations to a childs age appropriate abilities. I couldn't make it stick.

How can I teach them accountability if I can't keep up with the damn chart?

I tried.  And I failed. 

I do not get a sticker. 


  1. hey there! thank you for your extremely sweet comment! i just spent some time perusing through your blog and admire that you are a working mother of three! wow how do you do it?! anyhoo, enjoy your holiday season!

  2. I hear you.....I can't stick with sticker charts.............Things will happen when they happen, regardless of how many stickers you slap on a piece of paper.

  3. Thanks baby!! I needed that:)

    you need a little salty to balance the sweet in life:) There is a place for gentle and hard ass - right in the middle is where we live:)

  4. You make me laugh!!! I love it!! I love you!!! I love your children too:)

    Thanks for all the support - I can really never tell you how much it means to me!!!

  5. Maybe bloging isn't such a good thing, because by the time they are 10 you will be saying "no never had any behavior problems with them - they were pretty easy to raise" !! As a mother of 3 in 15 months the most important lesson I learned was DO NOT PUT ANYTHING IN WRITING - therefore no evidence to the contrary!! Hang in there cause it gets better or you get too tired to notice!!
    Love your blog!!

  6. This is my life! All day. Every day. AND IT overwhelms me too. Seriously recovering from addiction and conquering sticker charts/time outs/behavior problems are equally as hard, and I am not kidding!!!

    I think the pressure that we put on ourselves is too much. Having temper tantrums and being loud and being defiant does not mean that they are going to grow up to be lazy non-contributing members of society as I fear so often!!!! That is just me projecting my fear of "failing" this whole parenting thing onto them which makes us all crazier!

    You have told me time and time again, that just by loving them and trying to do our best for them has to be enough sometimes! As long as we don't kill them in the process we will have succeeded!

    I'm sure your gentle, kind, loving supportive mom will have incredible words of wisdom about this post (and I really look forward to hearing them),

    But when all else fails, remember my take-no-shit, hard ass mother's advice: "No Matter what we do and what our intentions are, we will still manage to F them up somehow, so quit stressing so much!" (Did I mention that she is also a child-development specialist :) " LOVE YOU

  7. Sometimes we don't see the forest for the trees, or is it the trees for the forest. Whatever--just follow your gut (and your heart) and you'll do fine. No failures.

  8. I'm glad I'm not alone:) Thanks Rebecca!

  9. Erin, all I can say is you are not alone.........things are very similar with us. Justin is the calm, not so much.

  10. Thanks for reading and thanks for telling me that I am not alone!! It helps to know I am in good company!!!