Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Rising Up and Hoping To Be Called Blessed

I visited my younger sister recently and was so impressed by all that she has and does to help her children make good choices and behave well. I was impressed, too, with her organized and well kept collection of educational toys and games.

It's not that I haven't tried similar things myself or that I have never bought my children educational toys and manipulatives. In fact, there once was a time that I had to fight the temptation to buy those things like some women fight the temptation to buy more shoes.

So what happened? When did I stop and why? Was it that week after Christmas one year when EVERY SINGLE ONE of the carefully chosen fun and educational gifts was broken, lost, or missing pieces? Was it because the boys were using the Montessori materials as guns and broke a window in the classroom? Was it because they were chewing the Playmobil like bubble gum? Honestly, it's enough to make us consider giving a donation in each boy's name to the charity of his choice for Christmas. (I am so mean)

And when did I stop trying creative methods to motivate my children to take better care of their things and use things for what they are meant to be used for? When did I accept their carelessness as an unfortunate fact of life? Was it the day I realized that I was the only one who cared about the cute, motivational sticker chart on our refrigerator? Or was it the moment I learned that boys don't take to rules quite like most girls do?

On a certain level, I do think I need to accept these circumstances as a reality that will be with me for some time, but I also think it is good to try new motivational techniques on occasion.

Today, I was inspired.

Each of the three oldest boys now has a colorful smiley snack box and whenever they treat our possessions respectfully or behave well in the specific area each is working on they can put one of the colorful, metallic, pom-poms inside. Whenever they fail in their designated area, they must put a pom-pom back. Should they fill the container(I'm guessing about thirty good actions assuming no transgressions) they may pick an educational toy or game of their choice.

So far, in the half day we have been doing this, I have already benefited by one clean and organized closet, a tidied back yard, prompt obedience, and less laundry due to dry pants and better table manners. Not a bad start, eh? Perhaps they are getting tired of playing with broken toys.


Anonymous said...

I completely identify with this post! I always loved all the educational toys and enjoyed getting them for my boys. They didn't love them as much, and over time I gave into the fact that a stick was picked up and played with more often than the beautiful wooden toy I paid so much for! I really like your pom pom idea. Keep us posted on how it goes, I may just try it on my little men!

Suzanne Temple said...

Thanks Kathryn, I'll keep you posted.