Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sleep and bribery.

When I say that Otto has had a hard time settling into our new place, I mean HARD.
He struggled with the idea of moving home - asking constantly whether we would be taking this toy or the other, saying he would miss our house and that he didn't want to leave his favourite neighbours. Fair enough really, he was born in the old house (literally!) and has never known anything else.
He started having bigger, more intense tantrums which involved lots of hitting, throwing, yelling (any 'bad' words he knew were involved' and lots and lots of 'NOOOO') and screaming.

This was not helped by the fact that long before we moved, Otto's beloved homecarer stopped doing homecare. We hmmed and uhhed about putting Otto into preschool, or in with another homecarer. But, we wanted to hold out for kindergarten (which had a waiting list of a few months), so Otto was home full-time with Mollie and I.

Safe to say he was bored out of his brain, and all muddled up with his new surroundings and all the change around him. The poor guy has been miserable, and completely out of sorts. (I did enough consider taking him to be assessed for depression.. )

I have been at my wits end for weeks, having tried everything I could think of and everything the internet could suggest. I threatened, I begged, I cried, I reasoned, I comforted, I even gave the odd smack or two. NOTHING. Absolutely nothing helped. We got the stage, in the past week or two, where every single night resulted in a gigantic whopping paddy. The behaviour during the day was not much better.

Then I realised, the one thing we had not tried - was chart-driven bribery. Not the finest parenting practise, probably, but it bloomin' well works. (Five days in and counting.. touch wood!)
Each night that Otto goes to bed without a big fuss, he receives a sticker. After two stickers he gets to choose a reward from the box (small things like lollipops, Lego figures, activities etc). This number will go up in a week or so, to three.. then four.. etc.

Between this, and the lad beginning kindy, our house is beginning to find a small amount of order again. There is a smile on his dial a lot more often (he IS three and a half though, that attitude is still there! haha!) and all three children are managing to get to bed much earlier, with much less effort on our part. There are less tears being shed (and cider being drunk!) by a certain grown-up, too.

Well worth the extra sugar and plastic toys!

Are you a stickers/rewards family, too? Or do you have a different system?


  1. Well done mama, sounds like a tough time and you guys worked it out. Jxx

  2. oh, phew!!! SO pleased something is working for you.
    hurrah for stickers and lollipops and lego xoxo

  3. Works really well for some kids, not so for others. I say do what works!! Hope it continues to improve. That sounds like a mare.

  4. We have just embraced the reward chart system too, and it's THE BEST!!! I actually think it's a fantastic parenting strategy, so much better to recognise when they are trying hard, than to punish them when they misbehave. The bribery part... well... We have a ten sticker system (actually for a review that I am posting soon), and receiving a sticker feels like a reward to her! The prize at the end of the chart was almost an anti-climax compared to the joy of earning a sticker. Aaaaaanyway, YAY for success!!!

  5. Just wanted to say good shit for getting through this phase. I found 3 pretty damn challenging and it was about the time Han started having mega tantrums that did my head in. Here's hoping it's a bit more smooth sailing from here xo

  6. Don't think of it as a bribe but as a reward. Stickers and getting a little treat work around here when not much else does. Even being able to read a favourite book is a reward here. Mum or Dad choose what the reward is going to be and put it up on the fridge. So the reward can be seen and aimed for.

  7. I totally feel for you, I have two that cruise and two that treat change, no matter how small,like you have actually chopped a limb off them. Sticker charts have been my sanity saver many times, I think they like the visual boundary it creates in what is Ok behavior wise. A huge change like shifting house I think always regresses their behaviour too, we saw it when we moved out for the renovations and even though I know they can't wait to be home I'm expecting a week or so of boundary testing and dramatic behavior when we return this week. I think small people just love their routines and even when it's good change they don't like the disruption of a changed routine....however understanding all this in your head and remaining calm in the face of daily...or maybe that should read hourly enough to completely test the patience and sanity of any parent...well done for getting through it xx

  8. Oh well done, so glad it works and things are becoming more settled. Was going to say back to normal but... :)