Thursday, November 21, 2013

Warm and Fuzzy.

Do your children ever fight?

Of course they do, right? Or is this just something I say to console myself as I watch our living room turn into a regular scene of You Tube chicken fights?

Your kids probably don't fight. They pick up their toys and never talk back and then run off to spend most of their free time quietly reading contentedly or riding their pet unicorns around the gumdrop tree in the backyard that really does grow dollar bills. That would be just my luck.

However, if you're a struggler like me and constantly blaming your genetics or your own flaming temper or your lack of parental savvy in banishing the squabble of unruly children, allow me to share one little craft that could make a minimal but positive impact in your home. Just channel all of that frustrated anxiety and lack of know-how into shopping expenditures at Micheal's. It's remarkably cathartic. All those foam sticker charts and puffy paints can serve as concrete evidence to any passerby that even if you technically have no idea what you're doing as a parent, you're at least damn good at faking it. And if you're feeling really biotchy, pin it to your Pinterest boards for all the other parents out there to see. Ha ha ha, suckas.

I give you, our Warm and Fuzzy Jars...

Last summer, I happened upon this idea and thought we should implement it in our home. Normally, our girls get chore money when they complete all of their responsibilities in the house. These are given in the form of green cards throughout the week (it's green paper I cut into strips. it's morphed into prized currency in our household. each green card is worth a quarter OR ten minutes of staying up past bedtime - their choice). We also have red cards for naughty behavior...which can represent going to time out for ten minutes, an extra chore, or cleaning under Mom's toenails and eating whatever toe-jam they find. Fine, the last one isn't for real but there are days I swear they not only DESERVE it, but it would probably be enormously effective.

However, I felt like I wanted to give them more positive recognition for good behaviors outside of this red card/green card system. Something to encourage nicer behavior, kinder interaction with others - especially their sisters. Enter The Warm and Fuzzy Jars. The girls each got to paint and personalize their own glass jars. Each time I observe a kind act, or a nice word, or a helping hand from them, I tell them it made me feel warm and fuzzy so they get a fuzzy poof ball in their jar. Once the jar is filled, they get to pick an activity to do all by themselves with Mom or Dad.

And! As a bonus, when they congratulate each other for receiving a warm and fuzzy, they can earn an ADDITIONAL warm and fuzzy.
Case in point: London or Lily will frequently get jealous and angry when they see that the other has earned a warm and fuzzy. Gosh, WOMEN. You can never just celebrate another female's accomplishments, can ya? The best part is that they are still female children, and as such haven't mastered the art of masking their unmistakable envy into passive-aggressive commentary or frenemy tactics. Instead their faces inevitably contort into obvious despair and they fold their arms into their chest and screech. I have to say I appreciate the open vulnerability. In fact, I'm going to revert back to my natural inclinations and give it a try. Next time I see another EFFING blogger renovate another EFFING gorgeous house in EFFING Europe I'm going to sit down and screech until I feel better. It will probably be healthier than the usual trip to TJ Maxx to buy yet another vase stamped with some fake French provincial print on it anyways.

The best example was when London explosively screamed "I hate you!" at Lily right after Lily received a warm and fuzzy for doing something nice FOR LONDON. Exactly. This is the kind of curve ball kids inevitably throw at good parenting technique. Someday, when I am summoned to their future therapist's office, I will defend myself: Yes, yes, I TRIED the warm and fuzzy positive reinforcement yada yada bullCRAP, but because of it they started shouting that they HATED each other, so we stopped ALL recognition of good behavior. I've had it with all your new agey fuzzy lovey dovey sticker charts when what I really needed was a wood shed and a tree branch...

So....anyways. Where was I? Oh yes... In an effort to combat the jealous primal rage provoked by the recognition of another's happiness, we award the efforts to join in and celebrate that happiness. It's kind of hilarious. I will notice London helping Ellie Jane clean up her toys and inform her that she earned a warm and fuzzy. Lily will overhear from the other room and come running in, "Wow! GREAT JOB LONDON! GOOD FOR YOU!"
Which means that Lily ALSO earns a warm and fuzzy for her jar for giving London a nice {bribery induced} pat on the back.
To which London responds, "Wow! GREAT JOB LILY! GOOD FOR YOU!"
and they continuously congratulate each other ad nauseum until I kindly remind them that the cycle ends after the first congratulation. Nice try ladies, nice try.

It's been working as well as can be expected. It's still a little erratic, inconsistent, and immensely hopeful. Kinda like their mama.

{{oh man, if they aren't just the cutest little chicken fighters}}


Janet said...

Oh my gosh! You had me laughing out loud while Ben raised his eyebrows at me. This reminds me of something I tried last Christmas to try to get the kids to be nicer to each other and notice service that others provided. Basically I put a bowl of M&M's and a white board out. Every time you notice someone serving someone else you eat 1 candy and put a mark on the white board. When we get to 250-1000 (who remembers?) points we get a family pizza party. The only other rule was that there are none. It's honesty. I don't want to know if you cheat. It led to all kinds of tattling, "Mom, he didn't do anything nice....blah, blah." I could not get them to understand I DON'T CARE! WORRY ABOUT YOURSELF! They are begging to do it again---holy crap--no way! P.S. I miss you. Happy Thanksgiving!

Joan said...

Totally stealing this idea (she typed on her phone while nursing her chubby, cherub of a little boy). Oh I wish you could smell, kiss, nibble and snuggle his newness. He's so, so good! :)

Rachel Haack said...

Haha! Love it, you give em an inch and they take a mile! Parenting 101!
Miss u too!

Rachel Haack said...

@ Joan,

Stop making me jealous!:)