After reading The Well-Behaved Child last spring, I started my then 5yo daughter on the ticket system. It worked quite well. Generally, I was already doing many of things Dr. Rosemond suggested – alpha voice, nipping it in the bud and being a bit fat meanie – but most importantly, it empowered my already held belief that offering rewards for good behavior doesn’t work. I knew it before I tried it, and I still know it now after trying it.
While behavior has drastically improved in the last year (defiance at home is very rare), my now 6 yo girl is still struggling in some areas, and I’m not sure how to move forward. First, and foremost, I would call her a “complicated case” and a High Misbehavior. Over the last year, I have identified 3 main reasons she misbehaves (there are more, but these are the 3 most commonly seen).
1. She is defiant
2. She is sneaky, conniving, and devious
3. She craves attention – both positive and negative
The one I want to focus on today is the Sneaky, Conniving behavior. She is very well aware that Mom and Dad are the Sheriff around the house, and therefore she behaves well when she knows she can “get caught”. She waits until we are not visible and busy– using bathroom, doing dishes, in the basement doing laundry, taking the dog outside to do his business, etc to do her dirty deeds. While she doesn’t lay in wait for us to be out of vision every single moment – it is generally about 25-30% of the time. Her misbehaviors are mostly mild now (smearing lotion on the wall, putting toys in her mouth, spitting) because the severe ones (hitting, biting, pulling hair) were dealt with most severely with all tickets lost for the day. This behavior also occurs when Mom and Dad are not around but to a much greater degree– with babysitters, at summer camp or other events, at school. The consequence when this occurs at home is ticket lost, a timeout (usually 15 minutes), and usually the loss or partial loss of a most beloved activity that day or the next day (going to the pool, riding her bike, etc). This is usually met with a lie of denial, which I do my best to ignore. I’ve used a preemptive consequence as well – send her to her boring room to stay in while I do what I need to do out of her vision. I’ve used words such as “since I can’t trust you to behave while I go switch out the laundry, you’ll have to go to your room”. While it has lessened the occurrence of sneaky behavior at home simply because she’s stuck in a place where she can’t get up to much mischief and she doesn’t like missing “fun and special things”; it hasn’t curbed her desire to be sneaky and conniving out of the home and away from parents. Because of that, her behavior at school last year was horrendous leading to several major behavior misconduct slips for “aggressive behavior” towards students and staff (pushing, biting, hitting, throwing things, running away, outright refusals to comply, standing on tables, spitting, lying, damaging others property, etc.) as well as just downright defiant toward teachers/staff, saying hurtful awful things (I wish you would get run over by a car and die, I don’t have to listen to you) and destroying other students’ work – stomping her feet all over someone’s project, coloring on another’s paper, and ripping a student’s writing paper.
I’ve used Dr. Rosemond’s approach on babysitters to some success with both babysitters as well as summer camp – they are to send her to her room or designated space and call or text me and I would come home/get her. In the case of camp or other events, she knows she will lose it if she misbehaves, and this has worked this summer. But school wasn’t receptive to calling me when she had issues. School also wasn’t interested in doing a daily report card either. Her teacher would give me a verbal report of the day at pick up.
I need help on how to curb her desire to be sneaky, defiant and devious when Mom and Dad aren’t around.
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