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Reward jar - should I take away points as well as give?

(8 Posts)
HoveMum5050 Sun 28-Aug-16 17:23:55

We're having problems with my 6.5 year old son at the moment with interrupting people talking. I'm trying to teach him a technique which involves him coming up to me and putting his hand on my arm to let me know he wants to talk to me if I'm talking to someone else - which in principal is great (we have 9 year old step-daughter doing it perfectly), but he just isn't getting it and continues to talk loudly over people.

So in an attempt to encourage him to do this we have started a reward jar, and he will get a marble to put in every time he does it correctly (and when he gets x amount of marbles he gets a reward). However as he very rarely does it correctly, I'm wondering if I ought to be taking marbles away for when he doesn't do it, to kick start him into thinking about it more? I was thinking maybe het gets two marbles for doing it right, and one taken away for doing it wrong. But I seem to remember reading that you shouldn't take rewards away? My issue with not taking away is that I'm just not sure just rewarding him for doing something he currently never remembers to do is going to be very effective.

Would love to hear what others do, both jars/rewards and encouraging not to interrupt. Thanks!

fluffymummykins Sun 28-Aug-16 23:55:28

Personally I find that children learn better from rewards rather than punishment, which is essentially what that would be. Presumably you've just ignored him when hes tried to interrupt you?

Kariana Thu 01-Sep-16 15:51:47

I definitely wouldn't take rewards away, that can be very discouraging, particularly as he rarely gets them and will soon be at 0!

How do you react when he forgets to do the right thing? Do you stop your conversation to speak to him? What do you say/do?

Kleinzeit Fri 02-Sep-16 08:46:25

I’ve used sticker-chart type rewards (similar to the marble jar) with DS. I don’t take them away because taking away a reward makes getting the reward less motivating (not more), and because it’s unfair to punish someone for not learning a new skill. If my DS can’t or wont do the action often enough to get the reward then I first think about why. Does your DS care about the marble jar - has it worked for anything else? Is he interested in it? Would three marbles for a lucky-dip work better than a whole jar for a big treat? etc.

If the reward is right, then I think about simplifying the skill in some way. What is your DS not getting? Do you always want him to use the hand-on-arm thing to speak to you, or is it just when you are talking to someone else? If the latter, then does he recognise when he needs to use it? You might need to tell him every time before you start a visit/conversation/phone call - I am talking to Jane, if you want to talk to me then… and you will get a marble etc. A visual signal (raised and signal, yellow card) might help to stop him talking on. Or, does he have the patience and self-control to wait before he speaks? If it’s a matter of impulse then you might you might reward him for not interrupting except by hand-on-arm for the first 5, or 10, or 20 minutes of the conversation, rather than the whole time every time.

Your step-daughter is a different child, she may be more socially aware or more patient or less impulsive. She is certainly two years older. So what works a treat for one might not fit the other.

SoupDragon Fri 02-Sep-16 09:03:39

In the scenario describe, no I wouldn't take them away. I don think taking the reward away for forgetting the required behaviour helps.

Taking them away for bad behaviour (after warnings) does work IME. Or did with my DSs - the warning was usually enough to stop the bad behaviour.

ThisUsernameIsAvailable Fri 02-Sep-16 09:11:56

As an ex teaching assistant with a qualification in managing children's behaviour I would say no, don't take them away. He has earned those, they belong to him. If you start taking away his achievement he may decide it's not worth bothering.
The strategy used by most childcare providers is to praise the wanted behaviour and ignore/not make a fuss of the unwanted.

ThisUsernameIsAvailable Fri 02-Sep-16 09:15:45

To get him more interested in the jar I would add in a few more things you can reward for, things that are smaller and easier for him to achieve. If he understands I would make the behaviour you we concentrating on worth a bigger reward so maybe tidying toys/sitting nicely/going to bed without fuss/brushing teeth could be worth one marble but waiting for his turn (which is difficult for a small child) is worth 2.

What do you do when he interrupts you?

CherryAlmond Fri 02-Sep-16 10:47:07

No, I wouldn't take them away. He has earned those rewards. If anything he earns is taken away, he will lose any incentive.

Is the amount of marbles he has to get realistic? Maybe he should have a smaller reward sooner, it doesn't have to cost anything.

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