Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Ladder

We have started a new system in our house that has been working miracles.
My kids are suddenly doing jobs without me asking them to.
If I don't make my bed as soon as I get up, some little person is in there making it for me.
Dubs went to bed distraught one night worried that there would not be enough jobs to do the next day.
What 5 year old do you know who's worried about not having enough jobs?
My kids are generally more kind to each other.
Arguing? Gone.
Back talking? None.
Rolling of eyes and general disrespect?
No more.
When I ask them to do something they say, "OK, mom!" with a smile on their face and they run to do it.
Sound too good to be true?
Well, let me tell you, it's really not.
It's ever so much simpler than I could have ever imagined.
It's called The Ladder.
It's heaven sent.
I stole the idea from a friend, then modified it to fit our family.
I am thinking about modifying it again now that we've been doing it for a few weeks, just to tweak a few things to better suit us.
The Ladder is basically a list of privileges, I have listed 10.
Things the kids like and that are super cool are at the top of The Ladder.
Things that are boring and even undesirable are at the bottom of The Ladder.
Each child has a button (stuck on with poster tack) on The Ladder to mark where they are.
They move up The Ladder for good behavior as invited to do so by either myself or Mr Bird.
If we notice a child being kind or sharing without being asked, we invite them move their button up one level.
If two children are fighting or if they argue after being given an instruction they are invited to move their button down one level, thus losing a privilege.
The children can have any privilege that his button is on or any of the ones below his button.
Here's what our Ladder looks like right now.
  1. Alone time with Mom and Dad (if a child has his button on this level they will be invited to make a run to the hardware store with Daddy or may be invited to go on date night with mom and dad or some other sort of one on one time with one or both of us.)
  2. Screen Time (computer or movie)
  3. Play Day with Friend
  4. Personal bedtime story (after prayers and the family bedtime story, I pull each child who is at or above this level one at a time to read a story of their choice. Beano and I are reading Indian in the Cupboard and he loves it. He is never below this level for fear of missing this.)
  5. Make Dinner with Mom (my kids love to do this and fight over whose turn it is. Doodle's night is Monday, but if she's below this step on The Ladder she will have to miss her turn. Beano gets Tuesday, Dubs gets Wednesday, Baby gets Thursday and Friday is date night. We just wing it on the weekends.)
  6. Family activity (park, museum, Ogden Nature Center, hike, etc. All the kids must be on or above this level)
  7. Play outside during free time
  8. Snacks (I put this pretty low on The Ladder because I wanted them to all be able to have snacks, but it they are really naughty they miss eating a snack, which is a fate worse than death in this house)
  9. Fold a batch of laundry (I always can use help in this department)
  10. Dish Duty! (When dishes need done the person at the bottom of The Ladder gets to do them, no questions asked)
To them it's like a real life version of a board game.
They have a visual of where they are and it has been miraculous for us.
Here are some tips and general rules for our family.

  • Any hitting or pushing or biting or pinching or anything of that nature is automatically 3 steps down.
  • Telling a lie is 3 steps down.
  • Most any other bad behavior is one step down. Such as back talking, eye rolling, arguing, yelling at sibling, unkindness and selfishness, etc.
  • Good behavior is one step up, such as doing something for the family without being asked, sharing, obedience, using kind words, helpfulness, etc.
  • Our world does not stop to accommodate a privilege. They are only allowed to have screen time after dinner is cleaned up, not anytime they want it just because their button is there. Play days with friends must be arranged before hand and will be canceled if the child does not stay at or above that level. These privileges must fit in our regularly scheduled programing.
  • If someone moves someone else's button they go down one.
  • If they ask if they can move up because of some deed or kindness the answer is automatically no. They must wait to be invited. They are allowed to tell me that they did an extra job, then I determine if they go up or not.
  • If a child is at the bottom and ends up falling off The Ladder that means they have earned a 24 hour consequence. That means no privileges for 24 hours. The only things they are allowed to do during those 24 hours are jobs, SODAS (I'll post about those later), and school work. Their world literally stops for them and they do not have the opportunity to get back on the ladder or start going back up until the 24 hours are over.
  • Where I put them back on after the 24 hours depends on their behavior during the 24 hour consequence. If they were horrible and thew fits at every instruction or refused to be helpful, I'll put them at the bottom level where they risk falling off again and must work hard to get back up. If they were super obedient and had a good attitude and were kind to the family I'll put them at or near the top. If they are just OK, but not horrible, I'll put them near the middle.
  • If a child is near the bottom it usually means they need a little more love and attention from me or Mr Bird. In that case I spend time looking in their eyes and talking to them, it seems to be just the boost they need and before I know it they are kind and I can find opportunities to invite them to move up.
  • If I'm grumpy they all seem to end up near the bottom, go figure.
  • This has given them personal responsibility for their actions. It shows them immediate consequences for their choices. I don't have to get upset, I just let the lack of privilege do the teaching.
  • Baby has a button, too. he moves it around willy nilly, but does not really understand the concepts yet. He has to be part of it though. I'm training him for later.
This is really long.
I hope it makes sense.
I really love it!


linh said...

I can't wait to try it. :) Thanks Sara! You're the best mommy that I know!!

Anonymous said...

WOW that is an awesome idea. I just might have to use for Trey. You should take a picture of the ladder and post it. Thanks again!!

Amanda said...

I'm so stealing this idea!! This is just what Celia needs. Thanks for the fabulous idea!!

Allison and Darin said...

That is inspirational!!! I'm so impressed! Jake is still a baby, but I definitely want a system like this when I have a bigger fam!