Rose has been going through some rough terrible twos. She was refusing to let me dress her or put her in shoes and a coat. Getting out of the house was getting to be an epic battle. No amount of threats or punishments work. For some reason when someone is throwing an absolute fit about putting her shoes on and is otherwise acting like a monster, positive reinforcement is the furthest thing in my mind. Punishment is the first thing that comes to mind, but since that wasn’t working, it finally occurred to me to offer sticker rewards instead of yelling “Do you want to come with us? THEN LET ME GET YOU DRESSED NOW! STOP IT! STOP IT! LET ME GET YOU DRESSED! COME ON! I’M GOING TO LEAVE WITHOUT YOU! NO! STOP IT!” while a 2 year old struggles against you and screams her head off.
God, 2 year olds REALLY suck. I got lucky with Lily. She wasn’t perfect, but our battles were NEVER this frequent. She usually liked putting on her shoes and coat because she knew it meant we were going somewhere fun. Man, she spoiled me.
For some reason, stupid stickers and a sticker chart have worked like magic for getting Rose out of the house without a fight. She will let me put her clothes, shoes and coat on (purchase of an entirely blue dress wardrobe may have helped here) without too much protest. If she starts to resist, I offer a sticker and she’ll follow through whether or not I actually remember to give her one.
At the same time I was creating Rose’s sticker chart, I made a sticker chart for Lily and the inequalities between the two are blatant. Looking at the two sticker charts, one might think I was playing favorites and making Lily be my slave. Here is Lily’s sticker chart:
In case the small print is hard to read, it says she gets stickers for cleaning the playroom, cleaning the living room, picking up her crayons (always all over the floor), putting Lumpy in his room when we leave the house, getting Lumpy food, letting Lumpy in or out and putting her shoes and coat away when she walks in the door. These are actual chores that necessitate effort on her part. These chores REALLY help me.
Now, before you think she’s overworked, when I say her chore is to “clean” any room, I just mean she needs to put away her toys and books. She’s not vacuuming or dusting at age 4.5. Often I only make her do one of the clean-up chores a day even if the other room is messy. She takes FOREVER to put things away because she examines each and every toy before she puts it away, then seems to sit and think about where she should put it for a minute. Drives me insane.
So, Lilys chore list is a for real chore list. Because of her age and comprehension level, I expect her to actually contribute to the household a little. She seems to like the system and loves running to get her own sticker.
Here is Rose’s sticker chart:
That’s right, while Lily is getting stickers for actual chores, Rose is getting stickers for putting on her clothes without crying, taking a nap, using the potty (has never happened), sleeping in the correct bed (she’s been insisting on sleeping in her crib again for WEEKS), sleeping all night and “helping” her sister clean. By “helping”, I mean the girl gets a sticker for putting like three blocks out of 100 away. Rose also gets stickers if she shares with Lily without crying.
So, Lily gets stickers for being helpful while Rose gets stickers for not being a nightmare child. It’s not fair. Lily doesn’t get stickers for not being a brat. She gets dressed and shares without crying all the time, but no stickers get handed out for any of that. I feel guilty just looking at these sticker charts, but the truth is Lily SHOULDN’T get stickers for those things anymore. I wish I didn’t have to give Rose stickers for these things, but they don’t come easily for her and she needs some positive reinforcement to learn how to be a good girl.
And that’s how I had to explain it to Lily. “Rose is learning how to be a good girl. You are ALREADY a good girl, so you are learning how to be a big helper girl for Mommy.”
Hopefully that holds the resentment at bay for a while.
As an older sister, I doubt I can get away with this inequality for long before Lily realizes how unfair it is.