Hand Checks

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As we all know, my child has been making me crazy.  So crazy that I was finally forced to (gasp!) buy a parenting book.  In a moment of weakness, I downloaded The Happiest Toddler on the Block.  And.  It.  Has.  Changed.  My.  Life.  It starts off talking about how our children are actually cave people – finally, someone who understands – and I was immediately hooked.  The book has helped me diffuse tantrums and learn to talk to Robbie so he actually listens to what I’m staying instead of just hearing blah, blah, blah.

However, despite all my reading (I’m only 65 pages in), the morning got off to a very rocky start.  Somehow, I wound up with a barefoot child at church.  Who wanted to make ambulance noises.  And throw Cheerios.  It was brutal.  Eventually, we left, which was, surprisingly, the biggest punishment I could have imagined.  All Robbie wanted was to go back to church…

So, after that disastrous start, I read a little further into my book and got to the chapter on encouraging “green light” behaviors.  It’s pretty typical stuff that you tend to forget in the day-to-day routine of life, but there was one section that really grabbed my attention.  It was called “Hand Checks.”  Sure this didn’t mean that I could hand check my child when he was doing good things, I read on.  The whole process is actually quite simple.  When you see your child doing something good, you put a check mark on his hand.

Intrigued, I figured I’d give it a shot.  Robbie offered a please and thank you unprovoked, so I drew a checkmark on his right hand.  A grin spread across his face, and he asked for another one.  By the end of the day, he had five checkmarks, and I had a pleasant child who got his toenails clipped without fuss (he has never let me do it while he was awake), helped make dinner, and started to pick up some of his toys.

Of course, the ink washed off in the tub, which provided me with a greater opportunity to encourage more good behavior.  He brushed his teeth all on his own.  He stayed in bed when I asked him to.  All for a few checkmarks.  Brilliant.  I can’t wait to give him more tomorrow.

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