How I finally got my kids to listen

It’s not all the time, but it’s helping.

Check out the Facebook Live at the bottom of this post to see a demo of the points chart, and hear me explain how it’s honestly been working for me.

It’s been a ROUGH parenting season for me.

(I shared a Facebook Live about this a couple weeks back, after I cried three times in one morning over my kids’ behavior.)

Here’s what happens.

  1. I ask nicely.
  2. I ask nicely.
  3. I ask nicely.
  4. I ask nicely.
  5. I SCREAM.

It’s an awful cycle, and I hate it. It’s depleting and draining and downright demoralizing.

I don’t want to nag. But if I don’t ask them to pick up their shoes, they don’t do it. And so I ask four (or more) times, and then finally, for anyone to listen to me, I feel like I have to scream.

It’s a nasty cycle. And it greets me every morning, from the time I wake up (yesterday it was at 5:20am to the sound of one of my boys asking Alexa what the weather will be today right outside my daughter’s bedroom) until the time I retreat to my room to binge on Bravo and hope to forget the parenting mistakes of this day as I drift off to sleep.

I’m used up.

I’m shutting down.

I’m done.

I was talking to a friend about this and she shared something she’s been trying, and it’s working.

It’s a points system.

Let me tell you. I hate these types of things. They are tedious, and it’s a lot to keep track of with three boys. And again, it’s tedious and exhausting to enforce.

But guys, I have nothing left to take away. The timeouts and yelling aren’t working. Not for my kids. And obviously, not for me.

So last week, I gave it a whirl.

Here’s how it works:

The kid gets daily points for doing what he is supposed to do, without being asked and without complaining. For my kids, this includes: getting dressed (including brushing teeth, doing hair and putting on shoes and socks), picking up their room and reading the Bible with their brothers before school.

After school, for my kids, it’s put your backpack on the counter and do your homework. There’s also a section for chores for each kid, which range from taking out the trash daily, picking up the backyard and picking up the great room.

Those are all ways to earn points.

The kids gets points taken away, which I call “strikes” if he exhibits bad behavior, which I list on the points chart as: whining, back-talking, yelling, hurting brothers, being unkind, sneaking, being deceptive and name-calling. He can earn those strikes back with bonus points by showing awesome behavior, including encouraging his brothers, showing gratitude, asking Mom how he can help her and being helpful in the kitchen.

Here’s a look at the points chart for one of my sons:

How to Get Kids to Listen

At the end of the week, if the kid has 32 points or more, he gets our special Friday family dessert. Each week, I change up the dessert and handwrite it on the points chart. It’s been fun to think of new desserts to make and experience them together as a family. And you better believe the kids look forward to it all week!

The first week, the dessert was Pizookie. (And if you don’t know what that is, it’s the best dessert ever at BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse. It’s simply a cookie that’s baked in a single-serving metal muffin tin, and served in that tin and topped with ice cream while it’s hot. The cold, drippy ice cream and the hot cookie beneath is heaven. You must try it. I always do the classic chocolate chip cookie on the bottom and vanilla ice cream on top. But I digress.)

The points chart lives on our fridge and I mark it up with a Sharpie each day. (I’m sure there are much cuter ways to do this, but this is all I have the bandwidth for.) I print the sheets on Friday so they’re ready to go up on Monday morning.

The idea is I get my kids to do what I need them to do without having to ask them.

And oh my word, is that ever a relief.

I’ll be honest though. I did have one initial hang-up with starting this.

And this is why I don’t usually do reward systems.

I don’t believe kids should be rewarded for doing things they should already be doing.

These days kids get trophies for doing nothing. And I hate that.

But, I’m coming off that stance in this case because… survival.

In my house, taking away stuff didn’t work. (My boys don’t have any prized possessions.)

Taking away playing football didn’t work. (It became too hard to enforce.)

Timeouts didn’t work. (It just amounted to bottled up energy sitting on his bed all afternoon.)

I even thought about making them only eat plain oatmeal for the rest of the day, but that just sounded plain mean. *LOL*

My justification for this reward is this: an occasional dessert is something we’d probably do anyway. Making it different each week and trying new desserts as a family makes it fun, and as silly as it sounds, it’s a memory we can all enjoy together as a family.

So that’s it.

Points for good stuff, strikes for bad stuff. Add it up at the end of the week and have some dessert.

Give it a whirl and let me know what you think.

One more thing:

Please know that if parenting is hard right now, you are not alone. We are all only simply doing our best everyday.

I’m all ears if you have any other discipline strategies that have worked for you! Go ahead and drop them in the comments on Facebook and on the post on Instagram.

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