Like many three year olds, Elliot has very set ideas about what he likes and dislikes – from what he eats, to what he wears, what he plays with and where he wants to go. Normally this is expressed through the medium of repeated “NO! I don’t want that!” and much whining.
As enjoyable as this is for two parents to experience multiple times a day, we have started to tire of constantly negotiating at dinner time and while getting him dressed. We’ve also spent money on a scooter, which he said he wanted for his birthday and has been on for approximately 2 minutes since December!
So, in a rare moment of inspiration, I devised a plan to expand his horizons slightly – an Elliot tried something new sticker chart! With the reward of an engine of his choice once he reaches 10 stickers. I bought some space stickers ages ago, and found some black card in a drawer. Along with a white colouring pencil, we were good to go.
Stickers are being given for trying new foods – so far this has covered vegetables at nursery, cheddar cheese, and tuna (that he’d forgotten he likes!), and also for trying out new experiences – so far trampolining and going down the big slide at the soft play centre, crossing a wobbly bridge at the playground, and going high on the swing.
The idea is to initially be very generous with stickers, so he gets a sticker most days for doing something new or different, in order that this becomes something that he can trust and that we get to the first big reward fairly quickly, as once he’s got that, I think that will encourage him to try even more.
The stickers are not linked to behaviour. He gets a sticker for trying new things regardless of behaviour during the day, and they are not given purely for good behaviour (that’s expected anyway) and certainly are never taken away, as I didn’t want him to associate this with anything negative.
It seems to be working, as Elliot does seem more adventurous at the moment. He got so excited crossing the “shake shake” bridge, and bouncing on the trampoline, knowing that he was going to get a sticker. I really think he is enjoying finding out that all these things he had avoided are actually quite fun. We’ve still a way to go with food especially so I think we’ll continue with these once the first engine has been rewarded.
Elliot even gave me a sticker yesterday at dinner time. He wanted some more pasta so I gave him some from my plate. He then said “thank you mummy, that is very kind of you. You can have a sticker too!”
We are currently at the end of week two, and are one sticker away from 10. Exciting times!
I feel like I’ve been given many reward stickers myself this week, as that this blog has been nominated for a MAD Blog Award in the Family Fun, Pregnancy, Baby, Best Writer and Blog of the Year categories. I’m under no illusions that I’d ever win one of these, but if you don’t ask you don’t get right, so if you’d like to nominate me, I’d be really really grateful.