Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Loophole Master



I wrote earlier that we had figured out a primitive, yet tried-n-true sticker chart to help James modify his behavior to more closely resemble a boy who lives in a family than with a pack of wolves. Long-term he's working to earn his visit with his friend Madiyar. Short-term, he has to get a star six days out of seven to earn a trip to the drug store or dollar store so he can buy a little something for himself, such as a pack of gum or small toy.
Well the little so-n-so loopholed me the very first week out of the gate.
He had been doing great and had earned a star every day, Saturday through Thursday. Six stars out of seven. So Friday afternoon what does he do? He starts irritating all his siblings by teasing, mimicking, making faces, basically pushing every button he can find. All the kids are in an uproar and I told him to cut it out. His response? When are we going to the drugstore? I told him I couldn't take him out when he's acting like that. He got very indignant and pointed out he had earned his six stars, as agreed on, so I needed to take him to the store, as agreed on.
Damned if his logic wasn't sound.
I sat there stunned for a moment trying to figure out a rational response. All I could think to tell him was that I couldn't in good conscience take him out for his reward in the middle of him acting so poorly towards everyone. If he could pull it together and treat everyone respectfully, I would take him out for his reward the next morning.
Well, he shaped up and I did take him the next day and he looked over all the toys and ended up buying himself a pack of Starbursts. I tried to explain to him why the reward trip needed to be delayed and he seemed to get it. But I'm still shaking my head over how he managed to find that loophole. The kid's too smart for his own good.
And mine.

4 comments:

wilisons said...

Ok, teacher eyes looking at this with 2 suggestions:

1. Rather than saying earn 6 out of 7 stickers in a week modify to every time you earn X stickers, you go to the dollar store. It can be 6 days or it can take 10 days to earn. No loop hole just earn them.

2. Another idea I have used is a BINGO chart. Each space involved a behavior I wanted i.e. make bed, take plate to sink, no fighting with sibs etc. Some were repeated 5 times on the chart but not in a row. When a row or column or entire chart, your choice is completed, then you get a prize.

Hope one of these ideas can help,
Shanna
mom to 2 Kaz cuties and Elementary teacher to 15 active Kindergarteners

KB said...

Hey... I have been really enjoying your blog. a month or so ago i started the researching stage of adoptiong from either Kazakhstan or Russia.. during the process i found your blog. it took me a few days to rread and loved reading about your whole experience. You have really inspired me and i really look up to and hope someday i can do the same thing you are doing. thanks soo much.. Khara

farmbeachgal said...

Shanna, thanks for the suggestions!
Khara, glad you found my blog "inspirational". Good luck on your adoption journey. Anytime I can be of help, just holler ....

Lori Printy said...

Anne I am finding it interesting that James would work so hard for a pack of Starburst. While it is a nice perk I find it hard to beleive it is the only thing driving his improved behavior. I really feel he must be, at some level, self motivated. For that I am proud of him.

And given his ability to work the system, see the angles and cite the terms and conditions of the the deal, I suggest you start saving for law school now.

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