Friday, March 23, 2012

Our secret shame, or how we found success with bribery

I've never believed in bribing children to be good. And yet, here I am, doing it. And darned if it isn't working.

Between Quinn's many delays and his sensory processing disorder, he has a very, very, very tough time sitting still and acting appropriately in school. He also loves to bang, to lean, to push - behaviors that, even though they aren't done with aggression, look very aggressive. The girls cry. The boys push back. The teachers get frustrated. Quinn gets in trouble.

In short, Quinn's behavior was becoming a fairly serious problem at school. As in, the teacher pulled us aside when we picked him up, every day, to tell us about the latest problem. This happened at his preschool, at Chinese school and at his therapeutic play group. Making it especially challenging to help him address these issues, he doesn't do these things at home.

We tried everything we could think of and everything his various therapists suggested.
We talked about keeping our hands to ourselves. We talked about how everyone is surrounded by a bubble, and how we shouldn't pop someone else's bubble. We threatened timeouts. The behaviors continued.

Then one day about three weeks ago, I was telling Quinn how I knew he was going to do great in school that day and he said, "If you keep your hands to yourself, you get a dollar?" Hmmmm. What to do? Sorry, but I bit. And guess what? It worked. Immediately. Since that day, no inappropriate behaviors at school, and Quinn is becoming quite the math whiz adding up his haul.

As a side benefit, he's developing a sense of saving. Now when we go shopping he looks at the toys, asks the price and decides what he's saving up for. He vascillates between Smokey the Fire Truck and a big giant garbage truck, but he keeps saving.

I feel a little embarrassed that such a shameful technique is working for us. But I can't help but rejoice that it's working. My goal right now is to help him succeed in school. And if this is what works right now, then this is what I'll do.

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