the pom pom experiment

November 30th, 2012

Life with Asher has been pretty difficult lately. Full of ups and downs and very frustrating. He talks back every time we say anything he slightly disagrees with and its infuriating. I know 3.5 is supposed to be some kind of hell age but he really swings from being the cutest, nicest boy alive to being just plain nasty.

scene 1:

me: Hey Asher can you put your shoes in the bin

Asher: um…no thank you!

me: Asher put your shoes away please

Asher: NO!!!!!!!!!!! screams, stomps his foot, grunts and throws something across the room.


scene 2, waaay after bedtime:

me: Why do you want to sleep on the floor?

Asher: If I want to sleep on my floor, ill sleep on my floor. If I change my mind and want to sleep on my bed I will!


Its been utterly charming to deal with. Its especially funny when he is polite about disagreeing but it drives me nuts. Meanwhile he knows where his shoes go because they have been kept there since the day he got his first pair. Why cant he just put them in the damn blue bucket?

Now he gets a decent amount of discipline. He isn’t allowed to yell at us, talk back, stomp, throw things or even grunt. He immediately gets counted to a time out if he keeps it up. It is VERY CLEAR. it DOESN’T STOP HIM FROM TRYING. Well it does after the first time out. He has so many 2’s lately I can’t even. There has just been so much screaming on both of our parts. And just general talking back is so out of hand he always has to have the last word which is too bad because I also have to have the last word. Or I used to, I don’t really bother with him anymore because ignoring is so much more satisfying. My favorite is that he is so used to saying no that I can be offering him a cookie and he says no out of habit before he even processes what I am saying. I mean, really.

Talking to some of his friends moms I find that this is the case for a lot of them at this point in their development. We all tend to think our kid is the sassiest so its especially nice to see that other kids are exactly the same.  They take turns being little obnoxious mouthpieces but someone always has a story of the day to share where I am constantly like “yup, been there” So all hail mom friends, you can never have too many people to commiserate with.

I’ve been home alone alot with him since September. Picking him up at 245 every day leaves a good 5-6 hrs of bonding time. Matthew usually works at least 1 weekend day plus he has been away the better part of the past 2 weeks. I decided around the time he went away that so many of my conversations with Asher were negative and I was exhausted and kind of sick of hearing myself say the same things over and over again.

No climbing on the table, be patient, lets clean up if we’re finished, yes you do have to take a bath tonight. Get your shoes on or no scooting to school, Please wait your turn. Share the road, stop jumping off the couch, no screaming in stores. Thats 1, Thats 2, Time out.

The thing is, he is really truly lovely so much of the time! He is thoughtful, sweet and always wants to have fun. He randomly gives me hugs and tells me he loves me. I mean, he is too cute!  I know its just a phase and refuse to label him as “difficult” or whatever just because its hard for me to deal with. I really wanted to find a way to change the tone of the house so I made the decision to reward him for all the times he shows good behavior. Sometimes he hangs up his jacket without being told! Yesterday he threw his trash in the can instead of the floor! Those times are rare so I thought if I highlighted them it would remind him to do them more often. One of his favorite things is when we are proud of him so I went for it.

I told him I had a jar, and when he fills up the jar with pom poms he can choose a new train. He was very excited to learn how to earn pom poms! I keep it right on the shelf beside the TV so he remembers what its for and I made it very clear that the following things earn pom poms:

-getting himself dressed or undressed. Also putting dirty clothes in hamper

-hanging up coat and putting away shoes when we get home

-getting into the bath/brushing teeth with no drama

-getting out of the bath with no drama. uh-huh, he is super ridiculous about transitions.

-Leaving the house when its time…he always says “but I JUST have to…”

-good listening when we are outside, especially to/from school

I dunno, basically doing all the things that he is expected to do! I am going to sit with Matthew this weekend and make a list so its even more clear but believe me he gets it. He is smart enough to know the difference between good and bad behavior and I’m trying this experiment as a way to empower him to choose good behavior when he wants to.

He also earns random pom poms for anything I feel like it. I talk to him at the end of the day and we try to think of pom pom worth events together. Like, Matthew rewarded him last week for looking both ways before crossing the path in the park.

I’ll say “You played so nicely with Eva!” or he’ll say “I listened to my teachers in the Big yard!” or “I helped Charlie find a chair” I say things like “Wow, that was really nice, I’m so proud of you!” It makes him feel really good, he usually dances around the room.

Now I know its a form of bribery but isn’t any kind of allowance for chores? He is earning pom poms that will buy him a train. I really feel like if focusing on the good helps remove some of the bad a $10 train at the end of the month is worth it. Now if he starts being TOO good, I’ll have to get rid of those larger sized pom poms from the bag next time around, he figured that one out pretty quick.

Entry Filed under: Raising a kid

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Carolee  |  November 30th, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    Just so you know, even your husband went through this phase. I was almost tempted, for a couple of minutes there, to just leave him in Barkerville at the end of the summer…

    Love you, Haffew!

  • 2. Matthew  |  December 2nd, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    @mom – No you didn’t!

  • 3. Libby  |  December 2nd, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    We’re currently trying to train the boy to use the toilet in the morning and then get back in bed for a half hour- SILENTLY- so that no one else wakes up. First time this morning! Whoo hoo! I am using chocolate and Santa threats. Whatever works, yo.

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