So up until this point I’m not sure what conclusions you may have drawn about my children and I’s homeschool journey. But if I somehow made you feel like our journey is a beautiful classical education decorated with perfectly behaved kids and a well-put together educator, I’ve led you astray! My posts are written to help and they are honest because I write all sides of my truth. There are neat, organized sides. And there are messy, train-wreck sides. Let’s discuss the ladder today. Today wasn’t a train wreck but it had a few stumbling blocks.
I have young boys. They would much prefer to be wrestling and kickboxing each other in the backdrop of our dining room while listening to a Mortal Combat soundtrack, then to be sitting and quietly coloring anything. They also have a stubborn rebellious streak. They might get it from me, but I don’t remember myself being this intense! The funnest part is that when the more rebellious one decides to put his foot down, fold his arms and refuse to budge, the less rebellious one decides he ought to do the same.
My kids totally do better with structure and limits on screen time. It’s crazy. If I don’t put the limits on it, they completely forget how to play or that they even have toys. I got a little loosey goosey with the screen time schedule mid-summer and I watched their attitudes deteriorate. But when the restrictions are on, they begin to play and act like normal kids again and my heart is happy. That doesn’t mean they become magically compliant though.
Take this week for example: we’re doing a light start to our school year this week by just doing a one hour (if even that) block for Bible and memory work and then they have the day to do chores, play, read, etc. The first two days went beautifully. And then this morning, they both decided to go on strike. We prayed and read and talked about humility. It took maybe 5 minutes. Then I took out a dreaded coloring page. Boom. Kid #1 folded his arms and said, “I’m not doing that.” Kid #2 followed his lead and took a pencil and started scribbling all over it.
Ummm…I am not a natural born teacher AT ALL, so this is the moment where if anyone wants to drop suggestions in the comments you absolutely are welcome to. But for me, this kind of behavior doesn’t fly. It really grinds my gears, if you will. I’m not asking them to do long division. And even if I was, we all have to do things we don’t want to do at times. And I feel like I am pretty fair most of the time. We work on things by earning rewards, chore money, special treats, etc. I expect them to meet me halfway if I ask them to work on coloring, even if it doesn’t tickle their fancy in that moment. So my response to their protest was, “Everyone head to your rooms. You can come out when you’ve swallowed your rebellion and are ready to do your schoolwork.” Fun mom has left the building.
This literally just happened so I’m actually still wondering how I can get them to turn it around. I came in my room to write while I mull it over. I think I am going to try positive reinforcement, also known as bribery. I don’t know how that works out in terms of character development, but that’s what my son’s behavioral analyst promotes and it’s been working all summer on other behaviors. I will let you know how it works out. I’m going in!
I went out to propose my bribe. I went with the 15 minute screen time tickets we’ve been using over the summer for good behavior. I will post about those later. To my surprise, I found child #2 already at his desk almost completely done with his picture. I asked him why he decided to do his work and he said, “I didn’t want to sit in my room all day so I figured this would be better.” I gave him a ticket for turning it around on his own. Child #2 was still in his room sulking when I suggested he do his work for a screen time ticket. He said, “Fine. But I really don’t want to color this because it’s a picture with two girls and it says, ‘I am humble’ underneath it. But I am a boy.” That made logical sense to me, so I asked him if he’d like to draw a picture of two boys being humble instead. He agreed and drew a picture of himself being humble by helping another boy. I gave him a ticket for explaining why he was upset and turning it around. We were able to finish the rest of our work. Of course, it’s not always going to pan out well so quickly as it did today, we’ve had our share of train wreck days in the past despite all of my efforts. But I’ll take a win when I can get one and try to remeber this approach for next time. Time outs and bribery for the win, guys.