Smiles

For Ann.

There is little in our home that works better than promises of ice cream or mini peanut butter cups to encourage good behavior. The exception is smiles. When I hear Caroline start teasing Connor, "I bet you wish you had shoes like me ," I instantly remind her that this kind of talk will ensure she does not get her "no teasing" smile tonight. When she sasses me, I ask her if that is showing me she has earned her "show respect" smile.

I can't take credit for the Smile chart. A friend (thanks Terri) recommended it to me when we were looking for a new way to provide Caroline with guidelines for acceptable and unacceptable behavior. This chart by Melissa and Doug is amazing. We let it fall by the wayside for a bit of time and we noticed that the behavior was getting out of control. Of course it was, the motivation to acheive smiles was missing. Caroline knows the rules, sometimes she just needs reminding, and this great tool shows her clearly what is expected and how well she has been doing or not doing.

I admit, sometimes it is hard to not give her a smile when I know there was just one teeny tiny incident. I also admit that sometimes it feels darn good to deny her a smile for a particularly naughty incident. I make only one exception, if she can correct her actions and do the right thing for the rest of the night she can still earn that smile. I have also learned that sometimes once she has lost the smile, she feels there is no point in changing her behavior. I make sure to explain for instance that "I heard you teasing Connor, but when I told you there was a risk of losing that smile I also heard you apologize and I didn't hear anymore teasing all night." I think sometimes that is even more important than earning it outright.

We give rewards for multiple days in a row of "all smiles" and she is so proud of herself when she does well. On hard days though, like Monday for instance this week, it provides an opportunity for us to talk about how things can be different tomorrow.

Here it is in action:


If Caroline gets all her smiles again tomorrow it will be the third day in a row and that is simply wonderful.

I highly, highly recommend it.


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