Friday, July 20, 2012

Our Bedtime Charts - So Far, So Bad

Kay.  So something I've learned with Dylan - and I don't know if it's every kid with ADHD that works this way or if it's just him - is that punishments don't motivate him as much as rewards do.  So, for instance, if he's behaving badly in school, and I say, "You're grounded for a week," then it's a week of torture for both of us.  He cries and whines and cajoles for THE ENTIRE WEEK.  And the bad behavior at school doesn't stop. 

What I learned way back in preschool was that something that works really well for him is rewards charts.  He was really struggling with his behavior at that point, and I knew that he loved going to this Chuck E. Cheese-type place in town.  So I made him a chart - it was a pizza with slices of pepperoni on it.  I told him that, every day that I didn't hear bad things about how he was in class, we could color a slice of pepperoni.  When all of the pepperoni slices got colored in, he got to go to Chuck E. Cheese's. 

And that's what did it for him - he was great clear until he colored all of his slices, and then the behavior had become sort of a habit by then, so his good behavior continued beyond then.  I didn't even have to make another pizza chart.

This school year, Dylan and his teacher really struggled with each other.  Yes, he has ADHD, but I'm telling you, when he's on his pills, which is always during school hours, he is fabulous.  Cooperative.  Fun without hurting people or running into things.  Kind.  Talking at a normal speed.  But I would get e-mails from her at least three times a week, asking if I had forgotten to give him his pills (I never had), telling me how hard he was being.  It was reeeeally frustrating.  I think she wanted him to be perfect.  And I know she had, like, 9 other ADHD kids in that class with him.  I'm sure she was tearing her hair out.

Things were really reaching a breaking point about one month before the end of school.  So Ben and I came up with this chart for Dylan:
(I ran out of stickers and had to do boring old normal faces.  And Dylan took over with the drawing of the faces, with my permission, of course.)

So what we did was this - if he was good for all 34 remaining days, he would get a nice Lego toy - valued at $50 or so - at the end of the school year.  If I got an e-mail saying he was bad, he could still work toward getting a Lego toy, but its value lessened to $45.  Second infraction - down to $35.  Third infraction - down to $20.  And fourth, no more toy.  This way, he was still getting consequences if he was not behaving himself, but it wasn't like, first bad day, no toy at all.  Then he would have nothing left to motivate him for the remaining days, if that makes sense.

It worked great.  If you can see, he only had two bad days.  He worked really hard to be good.  And in the end, he got a pretty decent Lego toy still:
Oh jeez.  That hair.... Don't worry - we cut off, like, four inches last month.  It looks fifteen times better.

So one of our family's many issues right now is bedtime.  Dylan really struggles to settle down at night - his pediatrician actually told us to get him some melatonin for bedtime, which helps, but he still struggles to wind down.  I put them down at 9 p.m., and he's not usually asleep until 11. 

The kid always decides right at 9 that he's totally hungry and needs a whole other meal.  Or he needs to watch another episode of Phineas and Ferb.  Or he needs to play on the Wii.  Or he needs to play on the ipad.  On and on and on.  I don't let him do any of these things, but he continues to fight and beg and ask.  One of his famous phrases during these nighttime struggles is, "Pleeeeease!  I'll do anything!"  He just kills me; I'm ready to strangle him every night. 

Sadie will usually do the "I'm hungry now that it's bedtime" thing, and then about one hour after I put them all to bed, she'll come out and be like, "I'm scared. I'm so scared.  Can I lie on the couch?"  Which I don't get.  Her room has a makeshift curtain (made from an old fleece blanket) covering her window.  But our living room has all exposed windows.  To me, that's way creepier.  She started doing this right after Ben left for China.  I'll be like, "No, you're okay; you're going to be fine; be brave..."  But then, like at 3:30 in the morning, she'll come down to my room, crying, saying she had a nightmare, and can she sleep on the couch?  And at 3:30 in the morning, I'm like, "Go for it, dude.  Turn on the TV yourself."

But you know, it's getting old.  These bedtime issues are just getting really, really old.  I'd like to not get woken up every morning at 3:30.  I'd like my children to go to bed at a decent hour and not have it be this huge fight every night.  So I made them Bed Charts:
Micah, strangely, is really good about going to bed and staying there.  Weird.  It's the ONE thing - and I mean the ONE thing - that he doesn't fight me on.  But I made him a chart because he said he wanted one.

So I have 30 days on there - I should have just had 30 blank boxes, because I don't necessarily need them to have 30 consecutive days of good bed behavior.  I just want 30 good days.  I made the charts in, like, five seconds.  And it looks like I'm going to have to add boxes to it, because dude.  They've maybe gotten half smiley faces and half frowney faces.  This is proving a harder thing to kick than school behavior.  Sadie's gotten a ton better about waking me in the middle of the night and wanting to sleep on the couch.  That behavior has all but stopped, which is fantastic.  But we're still dealing with the coming out 20 times to ask me questions or make excuses for why they can't stay in their beds. 

But I haven't given up just yet.  Like I said, Micah does great with bedtime.  So he keeps getting smiley faces.  When the other kids see him, after 30 smiley faces, bring home a toy, I think that will motivate them to want to do better so they can get their own toy.  We'll see.


Aprillium said...


That being said, my MIL had a suggestion (mainly for Missy because she seams to suffer with insomnia) that I get the kids up early-sh (school starts the end of August anyways) and have them eat breakfast outside in the sunshine.

I know I have read studies about being able to adjust sleep times with lights. For instance, if someone gets a lot of artificial light at night it makes it harder to sleep because their body says "DUDE!!!! THE SUN IS UP!".

I think I'm going to try this... I will let you know how it works.

PS Goober earns Youtube videos (which I love, cause it's FREE!)

megan said...

That is such a good idea!! I really hope it works with Sadie and Dylan. Bedtime is such a hard thing for most parents I think.

I hope you don't mind if I give you a suggestion. Instead of letting Dylan play the iPad right up until it's bedtime have him stop 15 minutes before and give him a bedtime snack or let him read in his bed for those 15 min. When we would visit my grandparents we would always have a bedtime snack and we looked forward to bedtime. It helped us so maybe it would help Dyl and Sades? My kids like to read before bed to and it helps them wind down after a busy day. Everyone doing something together and sitting quietly is good, if it can happen:) Tini often runs around and plays the whole time but you do what you can do:) Love you!! Great idea kar!

Kathleen said...

I have a comment and I hope it doesn't offend. First, I don't think the Punishment vs Rewards thing is exclusive to ADHD kids. Kids in general just respond to different kinds of stimulus. Second, and this might be the offensive part, but I think it is funnier than heck. My grandson, who is four, loves Phineas and Ferb. The funny part is that he can't say it right, so he calls it "Penis and Perv". I can erase that if you want me to. Just let me know. Maybe you will smile about it though.

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