Monday, April 27, 2009

Chicken Bones, Behavior Plans, and the Lilliputian Mommy

Ricki has (and I wish I could write “HAD”) a penchant – no, a compulsion – to throw things on the floor. For a long time we hadn’t really noticed, except to admonish her when picking something up. Then, about 2months (6 weeks ?) ago, I decided that enough is enough. The whole family united behind the cause, and for 6-8 weeks now, Ricki has been summoned whenever we saw any extraneous objects or trash lying around. I was sure that eventually she would realize that” going to the trash can” is easier than “being pulled away from whatever you are doing” followed by “ going to the trash can”. Well, either “eventually” hasn’t arrived, or, for whatever reason there may be, the message is not progressing through the circuits of her brain. I had arrived at this conclusion yesterday morning, and the development of some possible behavior program seemed to be in order. I just wasn’t looking forward top taking the time needed to analyze the situation thoroughly and develop a plan.
I was pleased, however, that in the area of schoolwork, she has been improving, both at school, and with homework at home. I had been able to give her several reinforcing prizes as a result, and had hopes for continued success in this area.
Then yesterday afternoon Ricki asked me to do something on the computer for her. Concurrently she was supposed to have lunch. As I finished the computer work, and headed towards the dining area, a sight I hadn’t seen for a while met my eyes: Ricki had strewn the bones from her chicken all over the floor around the chair. Ricki was already on her way to the computer, and I followed her. I shut the machine off despite my daughter’s vehement protests. I decided that even though a Positive Behavior Plan was not yet in place, it was time to go with Ricki to a higher level of interaction over thrown objects: Utter disregard for household rules would need more than a verbal “wrist-slap” and a trip to the trash can. It was time for her to realize that not only could her privileges be postponed (as she took things to the trash), they could also become forfeit.

Ricki actually took the closure of the computer, her favorite pastime, reasonably well. That alone shows that she realized that there was a definite measure of justice in the sentencing. Quickly enough, she went to one of her other favorite activities: playing teacher. I soon noticed that not only was she playing “teacher”, she was actually doing some of her homework as she did so! True, it was homework due on Friday, and she had much more pressing things to do... but homework IS homework.

Two hours passed, and I finally told Ricki that while her “teaching” was fine, it was time to sit down with me and look at the homework due on the morrow. Her response that she was teaching “Gilli” (her imaginary friend), is a rather typical response on her part, and I told her that the homework I had for her was more important. Yet at the same time, I was busy preparing certain visual aids for her use in class, and I sort of let things slip. And again this happened about a half-hour later.
Finally, after about an hour and a half (YIKES!!! HOW did I let het get away with that for so long??? ), I lay down the law: come do homework NOW, OR ELSE. So she turned to “Gili” and begged Gili to let her go, that she Gili would manage...

Ricki needed Gili’s permission to listen to me.
I feel about two inches high.

(Wicked Grin)I warned Ricki that Gili can cook her lunch and wash her laundry tomorrow.

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