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House of Rewards

One thing we're really big on in our house is positive reinforcement. Both Husby and I were fortunate enough to grow up in positive environments, so it's been pretty second nature to raise Adelyn the same. I'm one of those people who firmly believes we can all afford to be a little nicer. I don't really enjoy picking on other people, unless it's in friendly sarcastic banter. But even then I'm just that person who would prefer to say positive things. Even sarcasm can be done positively. Perception is reality, so if we're perceived as coming off negative, rude or condescending, then we essentially are those traits. We really strive to raise Adelyn to be positive, grateful and treat people around her with respect.

Granted, she's still three.

Learning how to navigate through the age three has been incredibly challenging. While Adelyn really is a good child, she's definitely inherited my strong will and independence, and Husby's determination. Those three traits equate to some very defiant moments. Which then equate to very frustrating moments for us.

Raising a three-year-old is seriously no joke. I know I wrote the funny article about Life with a Threenager, but all funniness aside it really is challenging. We've had to become creative on deciphering what gets through to Adelyn and what just feeds into the defiance. For the most part, being firm but remaining calm achieves the best results (or just telling her we're going to leave without her...that one always gets her moving fast because for some reason she seems to believe we'd actually leave her home alone for the day). Still, there are those times she just.won't.budge.

For those times, Adelyn and I made what we call our Reward House.

We used simple materials to create a milk carton house that collects stones she can cash in for rewards. I calculated roughly how many stones were needed to receive a small reward once a month. At three years old it's not that effective to only get rewarded every three months, but on the flip side, I didn't want her to think she gets a reward every week either.

Whenever she does something positive without being reminded, she gets to put a stone in the house. Likewise, she can award stones to Husby or me. The idea behind that twist was for her to notice all the positive things we do for her too; to highlight the importance of gratitude, if you will. By recognizing the positive things we do for her, her reward house receives more stones.

All in all, the goal has been to generate more positivity, and surprisingly it's worked. We've been doing this since late September, and the couple times she's gotten to pick out her reward (we give her a $10 limit for a toy, etc.), she's so proud that she got to that level. Reward in hand, she instantly becomes motivated to fill the jar again.

Like all good things, there's the punishment side to. She can be required to remove stones for having a bad attitude or disrespecting us. It's amazing, because for some reason when we tell her to take out a stone she instantly changes her attitude!

milk carton . spray paint . free images from online . scissors . x-acto knife . glue

1. Thoroughly wash the carton + let it dry.

2. Spray paint the carton + let it dry

3. Cut three sides of the top of the carton to create a hinged roof

4. Cut various clipart images (door, flowers, trees, etc.)

5. Paste onto carton (this is where Adelyn could start helping!)

6. Place in a visible spot as a constant reminder and motivator

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