Problem-Solving with Magnets

Around the time that we were thinking of beginning to think about potty-training Monkey, a friend gave us a magnetic rewards chart. According to DearDR, developmentally speaking, Monkey was still to young for such a tool, but it was nice to have and fun to play with all the little brightly colored magnets. (M&M’s worked for potty training.)

The thing has been hanging in our kitchen for about a year and a half. And after getting all kinds of advice regarding The Littlest Pet Shop toys and Monkey’s obsession with them (thanks, everyone!), I decided it was time to put the chart to work for me.

I sat down with Monkey this past Monday and explained what we were going to do so that she could earn money to get LPS stuff. She seemed interested and engaged.

We decided on six things she would or would not do on a daily basis. Before her nightly treat, she and I would decide how she did, and she would get a magnet (or not). If she has seven magnets in each category, she earns a quarter. If she has no magnets in a category, we subtract a dime. She can earn up to $1.50 a week. Does that sound like a lot? Maybe we should make it a dime for each row, subtract a nickel?

Here are the categories:
Clear the table
Put toys away
Listen to Mommy (the magnet actually says Help Mommy, but she can’t read yet, so I get to make stuff up!)
No Whining (not surprisingly, to date, she has no magnets in this row)
No Temper Tantrums

She seems very motivated, and checks with me to see how she can get her magnets. She loves to clear the table; she needs help remembering to clean up her toys (even as she is ostensibly cleaning up her toys). Listening to me is also difficult, but more from an attention standpoint. I tell her to get undressed for her bath, for example, and I end up telling her about five or six more times because she has to look at a book, talk to her animals, go potty, chase Bun…. You get the idea, no?

Temper tantrums are de riguer for Monkey when things are not going her way. And if she is too tired or too hungry, they are worse. She can really work herself into a frenzy. I wonder why.

Thursday night, I told her no about something, and I could see her temper rising. She even started to yell and raised one foot for a stomp.

Then she stopped. She clapped her hands over her mouth, and put both feet on the floor. She took a breath.

“Oh,” she said. “I almost throwed a tremper pantrum, Mommy. I’m sorry.”

I picked my jaw off the floor, and praised her to the ceiling. (And later corrected her pronunciation.) I also gave her a magnet for it. (It’s the only one in the tantrum row so far. Baby steps.)

We may be onto something.