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Please help me come up with a reward system for three year old

(23 Posts)
Handletree Thu 21-Mar-19 13:00:35

He is generally well behaved... ish. But we have quite a problem with hitting his older brother, winding him up and throwing things. Time outs, stern talking to, removal of toys etc haven’t worked. He is a very stubborn child.

I’m thinking of some sort of reward system with things that can then be removed for hitting and throwing. I’ve never been that keen on the idea but not sure what else might work. I think he’llreally enjoying getting a marble or magnet or whatever so keeping them might be a good incentive, and making it a positive thing (don’t hit for a day and you get a reward) might be too long a time span to be realistic.

What sort of thing would you recommend or have you used? And what is the ultimate ‘reward’ at the end?

NuffSaidSam Thu 21-Mar-19 13:13:31

It doesn't always work well to reward not doing something. It tends to work better to reward a positive action, doing something. So maybe 'be kind' rather than 'don't hit'.

Also, it's hard to specify a time frame with that sort of thing. A day is far too long, he could be on his best behaviour all day long and then hit his brother 5 mins before bed and lose his prize for that day ....it's too harsh for a three year old imo.

Maybe something like a chart where he can move up for good behaviour and down for bad behaviour. Or items in a jar, bouncy balls, marbles, sweets, stickers anything he likes really. Gain one for good behaviour and lose one for bad behaviour. He keeps what he earns at the end of the day.

OhWifey Thu 21-Mar-19 13:14:04

Have you tried flipping it on its head and giving him lavish attention when he's not hitting, and ignore as much as possible when he is? (Obvs remove from the situation and check sibling ok). Have a look at some ideas from Rebecca Eames

Handletree Thu 21-Mar-19 13:41:41

Yes, don't think I explained it very well in my OP but I meant that I didn't think giving him a marble for not hitting would work and it's too long a time frame for him to understand. I did marbles in a jar with my eldest, but only ever putting in because he just needed some encouragement. Once he filled the jar I would buy him a book. I think filling the jar might be too far away for him to understand so not sure what to have as the reward for collecting marbles. I don't really want to give him junk as a reward all the time. I did wonder about whether meeting a set number of marbles could earn an extra story at bedtime but it might be a bit harsh to then deny him that on another night if he hasn't got the marbles and isn't old enough to fully understand why. As though I am depriving him of love!

I think I do praise him generally for good behaviour but I can't necessarily ignore it or easily deal with it at certain times. If you tell him off he either laughs and continues or becomes indignant and hits more in a "how dare you tell me off" kind of way. Hoping that the earning removal might be quick and clear enough to shock him into stopping. I'm alone a lot in the evening with them and there is a large age gap with his older brother also having quite a few issues of his own and I struggle to deal with it all in one go!

Handletree Thu 21-Mar-19 13:51:43

Sorry, meant to say that if I ignore him he will indignantly keep hitting me. Got mixed up with what I was talking about. I can't ignore him hitting me during cooking etc. He can play by himself for a while while I get on but I think he prefers winding his brother up for fun as his first option. I need him to bypass that stage and go to the playing stage.

cestlavielife Thu 21-Mar-19 13:56:20

What is he saying with his behaviour? Pay me attention?
Get a big sand timer and teach him how it works when you are not cooking...set up a situation so he plays you leave and timer runs out he can come find you and you will give him attention. So he learns.
And positive rewards are whatever child finds reinforcing. So if he likes marbles then marbles. If it's chunks of dry bread then chunks of dry bread

Handletree Thu 21-Mar-19 14:18:02

Yes I think it is partly attention seeking. Not sure it is attention seeking with his brother because he will stop doing other things to go and hit him or annoy him in some way. He seems to find it very fun! He'll be playing with a toy, then spot the eldest doing something with the tv and go and play with the toy directly in front of the tv on purpose. Or playing with something and then 'accidentally' hit his brother in the head with it or snatch away things he has and claim that they belong to him. He seems to get a kick out of it and find it very funny. I did wonder whether it was trying to get his attention and get him to play but when he tries to play he will shout at him and hit him for going near him.

Handletree Thu 21-Mar-19 14:19:17

Sand timer sounds like a good idea for cooking - did you mean I should get him used to it when I am not cooking and then use it when I am?

Dontloseyourhead Thu 21-Mar-19 14:22:18

Mine definitely thinks it’s funny to hit or kick, she doesn’t understand the hurting aspect. I’ve had more luck rewarding good behaviour and talking her through rules in certain situations so she has clear expectations.

Siblings without rivalry suggests lavishing the one that has been hit with attention and acting confused ‘I don’t know why ds hit you, he’s usually such a kind boy’ - it does help, deprive the hitter of attention but then praise up following rules and good behaviour

cestlavielife Thu 21-Mar-19 14:40:54

Yes teach him concept of timer at a time you do t really need it
Make it a game
Look for extra large sand timers for 2 5 10 20 minutes start with two

cestlavielife Thu 21-Mar-19 14:41:09

Start with two minutes

cheeseypizza Thu 21-Mar-19 18:42:47

Star chart. You can get them cheaply off eBay if you aren't artistic (like me).

CaptainCallisto Thu 21-Mar-19 18:56:27

We had similar with DS2 at the same age. What worked for us in the end was making a rainbow chart.

It was a laminated rainbow, with a raincloud at one end and a pot of gold at the other, and they each got to choose something they wanted to put in the pot of gold (book/trip to the museum/picnic etc). We had a little picture of each of them that started at the raincloud, and every time they did something positive they moved forwards a bit, and if they did something bad they went back. It really worked as a visual thing for him because he could see his goal, and could see that a direct consequence of hitting/throwing was moving further away from it.

We had much more success with that than the marble jar we had before. I think that was too abstract a concept for him.

Merename Thu 21-Mar-19 21:20:30

We do an immediate, ideally logical consequence, following on from what has happened for our 3y old. Ie you hit your bro with a toy, you lose that toy for a while. Just a little while if a small transgression and longer I’d pretty bad. Again depending on the seriousness, ideally giving a warning first that if you do that again you will lose a certain thing. We also do rewards for wanted behaviour. Another thing that we picked up from nursery that seems weirdly motivating is saying ‘big thumbs up/ down’. I wouldn’t expect it to work but she doesn’t like getting thumbs down and the thumbs up is nice as you can pick out desired behaviours and reinforce them - ‘I loved watching you share that toy with your bro, I’m giving you a double thumbs up’.

Chocolate1984 Fri 22-Mar-19 14:23:53

I use the traffic light warning system for my kids. They start every day on green but move to amber & then red if they hit, shout or do something unkind to each other. But if they do something really kind they are rewarded and can move up again so they always have an opportunity to make it up. If they end the day on green they get a star. The stars are worth 20p or 10 minutes which they can exchange. So they could save 6 stars for 1hr at the park or 30 stars for the cinema.

Handletree Fri 22-Mar-19 17:09:06

Wow, I love the idea of the laminated rainbow! Did you have measured out notches so there were a set number of steps to get to the pot of gold? How often did they reach the pot? I don't think I'll realistically be able to follow through with trips or buying things if it's too frequent.

Traffic light system is similar to what is used by my eldest's school, and I suppose similar to the rainbow. It's the saving up of stars and exchanging which I think is too abstract and complex for him at this age.

I have been doing instant consequence - hit with a toy and it is removed - but he's too stubborn for it (just like his dad grin). He also won't stop when warned even though he understands what I'm saying. He will sometimes find another toy to continue or just start hitting and kicking because I've removed the toy. I have found that talking about kind hands and feet like they do at nursery helps a little, especially getting him to tell his teddy about it because he's such a good boy and needs to teach teddy how to be good. It works until his brother is there and the temptation is too great! I watched when these things happened yesterday and the incidents involving his brother seem to be mostly because he just likes being mean to him. He doesn't do it to anyone else so I'm wondering if he thinks he can get away with it to some extent because of his brother being eleven so obviously not hitting back... And I suppose I don't react with the same seriousness I would if it was a younger child because he's a lot smaller than him. The most difficult situation is when my eldest starts kicking off about something and I'm trying to deal with him but then the youngest starts shouting at him and hitting him as though he is telling him off. It gets really stressful because they both need different approaches due to age and I struggle to do it simultaneously. And it inevitably occurs at a time when I'm also trying to cook or do something important! My strategies for eldest do work but I could just do without the judgey three year old and his 'help'confused

HeartShapedLocket Fri 22-Mar-19 19:50:08

Basic chart that is age appropriate and that they can understand.

It's not the idea to reward for not doing something... it's positive reinforcement of the behaviours you want to see more of.

For example (with the info you've given):

Playing well with Bro
Being nice to DBro
Saying please and thank you

Basically think up the behaviours he does that you don't like and turn them on their head - what do you want him to do instead?

I'd keep it to five or so categories. Get him to "help" you make the chart (both by thinking up the categories together and also by allowing him to decorate it afterwards a little - maybe he could help write his name, or do a squiggle or stars down the side). He's feel far more invested in it than if you present a generic bought one with too much going on (either prescribed behaviours or too much space for categories). A simple piece of paper and drawn up with felt tips is just as effective.

Present as an exciting new thing where if he does nice/good things, (if he understands "behaviour" then use that word of course) he'll get a reward after a certain amount of ticks! and what nice/good things could he do? Should you have a think together?... like... Oh I know DS, how about playing well with DBro? etc. Basically suggest things you want him to do like it's just occurred to you and ask him if that would be a nice/good thing.

He can then see the ticks building up on the chart. I'd pick something small but affordable such as a kids magazine or a new box of crayons or some such small item which you know he'd like. (You can also get these in advance and hide away so they are ready). Try and make it so it takes him maybe 5 days to earn it (any more and they lose interest, any less and it'll be too easy - of course it depends on the child, their attention span etc. Sometimes a really small reward per day might be appropriate, like an extra story, or coloured bubble bath or use of bath crayons or whatever).

Never threaten to take away previously earned ticks if bad bevhaiour arises. Whenever he is veering into undesirable behaviour territory, remind him that he gets a tick on his chart for being nice to DBro and is taking DBro's toy away nice or not? Get him to think about his behaviour and self-modify where possible. It's a lot nicer than punishing or shouting smile Obviously, if he did something that did require a telling off then you should still do that but ultimately, where possible you want to set a new pattern of behaviour, it won't happen overnight but gradually it will form new habits. Catch him doing something he can get a tick for on his chart even if he's just sat there not annoying Bro - say "DS, I see you are being nice to DBro! Well done! I think you deserve a tick!" etc. Be ready to hand out ticks early on so he gets the drift, it doesn't all have to be about the big moment of heroic displays of sharing and self-control. He will learn that sat either letting DBro alone and/or being nice gets ticks (and positive attention).

CaptainCallisto Fri 22-Mar-19 21:46:25

We did have marked spaces on the rainbow (I think there were fifteen...) and they probably got their pot of gold reward every three or four weeks. His behaviour improved quite quickly with it - within three months or so he was starting to get to the gold much more quickly, so we tried to go for 'I get to choose the film for movie night' or 'we have my favourite food for tea' type rewards rather than the bigger ones all the time.

beclev24 Sat 23-Mar-19 04:48:14

I know this isn’t the answer you are looking for but I’ve found all systems of rewards and punishments (and I’ve tried loads- star charts/ marbles in jar etc etc) eventually useless. If a kid is behaving badly it’s generally because they need something- usually your attention or understanding. So you need to give this upfront before the bad behavior starts. Google positive parenting techniques. I found a book called playful parenting by Lawrence Cohen to be a real gamechanger

Di11y Sun 24-Mar-19 08:39:33

as an alternative it's worth reading how to talk so little kids will listen.

Yabbers Sun 24-Mar-19 13:52:47

We tried all sorts of rewards systems. But honestly? It became “what will I get for doing this good thing” And actually ended up with consequences being worthless because she knew if she just behaved well for a few days, something good would come along.

I have no idea what the solution is, or how to combat that. Maybe someone who it worked for can advise where we went wrong with it, but I just thought I’d mention how it worked out for us and hopefully you can avoid that happening.

moreismore Sun 24-Mar-19 14:53:24

An idea for prolonged kicking/hitting that’s from the how to talk books... give him something to bash the hell out of away from
siblings-wooden spoon and saucepan. Or if able chuck outside to kick a ball. Balloons are good too as you can bash them off all sorts inside and no damage!
If you want to try rewards my 3 yr old is very into posting pennies in a money box-the money saving thing isn’t really the focus it’s more the satisfaction of posting a coin!

3ChangingForNow Mon 25-Mar-19 02:15:09

Look up nurtured heart approach

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