Raising Believers

Question

We just started the ticket system and we have one target misbehavior for our 4 year old. Following directions. For example, when he loses a ticket because he doesn’t listen when we ask him to brush his teeth, he melts down, which means he never completes the task. Once he’s somewhat calm, do I ask him to brush his teeth again and keep taking tickets when he doesn’t listen? If I do that, he’ll lose all his tickets in 5 minutes over one request. Thank you!

Answer

I am happy to clarify a bit more for you. When it comes to the ticket system I would recommend making the target behavior(s) more specific. In reality, not following directions could include just about everything so it would be very easy to spiral into a frustrating situation with zero progress. Once you have established the most pressing misbehavior, you can establish a more clear understanding. Remember the bigger picture when using tickets, as with any method or consequence, your primary goal is to be consistent and eventually drive home the notion that you will in fact do what you say you're going to do and your follow through occurs as promised. By sticking to your guns your child will learn to apply what he has learned from reaping consequences for one action to the very high potential of the same scenario unfolding should he choose to commit yet another sinful action.

Also remember that they don't have to LIKE it...of course they won't. But they do have to obey. So if you choose to start with "not brushing your teeth" as the target behavior, take the ticket if he does not complete the task within the allotted time (maybe set a timer). Remain calm and go about your business. The more attention you give his meltdown the more he will show out. I would not recommend pressing the issue in the heat of the moment or you will both become too emotionally invested. After he has calmed down (maybe five minutes...maybe an hour), and you have not given undue attention to his outburst, tell him to brush his teeth again if he hasn't already done so on his own. FYI the longer you remain calm and go about your business the faster he will learn to do this on his own. If he again chooses not to obey, calmly take another ticket. Rinse and repeat.

Be sure the consequence for losing all three tickets is an attention getter. You should also be sure to resist the urge to take tickets for anything other than "not brushing your teeth." Focus on ONE specific behavior first. Get it under control and then choose a new target behavior. You should find that in doing so, several behaviors will improve that are not linked to the tickets. Make him a believer!
If you find you need more clarification please don't hesitate to reach out!

Stacey Watts
Dean of Parent Coaching
swatts@happilyparenting.com

Become A Member To Get More From ParentGuru®

Members enjoy access to all questions and answers.

Continue

View All Questions