Bunk and Positive Reinforcement: I need a vacation!

It’s two days before my summer vacation. I’ve been doing child day care since 1975 and my 56-year-old self is tattered and tired. The release of kids from school has added a new dynamic to my daily schedule. Big and little kids are battling for their place in the group. I’d like to say that I have everything under control and all’s well. It’s not.

My first instinct is to devise a chart for my current charges to accumulate “stars” upon. You know, those same charts that parents use for positive reinforcement. They would earn stars for “good” behavior. Accumulating a predetermined amount would allow the little cherubs to turn them in for prizes. BUNK! This whole philosophy seems wrong.

What is the overall complaint about our modern society? No one seems to fear nor anticipate consequences for their bad behavior. Kids are not exempt from this. All this happy, Barney the Dinosaur, atmosphere makes me ill. I couldn’t put my finger on why it bothered me until I considered a chart system that I believe may have better results.

The positive reinforcement Star Chart system is flawed when you consider that the whole premise is based upon the kids being considered already “naughty”. The kids have to work their way UP.  That seems as though our expectations are low for them from the “get go”. I’d rather assume they are good and “nip” the bad behavior when it happens.

My system, which I will implement right after vacation, will expect the kids to know their manners and will reduce their “stars” upon each and every infraction. They will START with 10 stars. Screeching and bickering (for example) will result in an automatic loss of a star. The consequence will therefore happen in that moment. Stars can be earned for kind and mannerly behavior of an exceptional nature too. At the end of the week, those who have a 7 star, or better, average will receive a prize. The kids, who have been schooled with the first star chart, adopt an, “I’ll just make it up later.” attitude or “It’s only Monday. Why worry?”

When you consider the way a mother wolf teaches her pups, my chart is more natural. The wolf mother reprimands her young immediately. This lesson lasts longer. We can learn so very much from animal parents.

My method will be using punishment that is immediate. Yes, punishment. Our society has attached such a bad “taste” to the word or if you’d rather, consequences. I think my method may have good results.

Ever ask yourself how folks without jobs afford tattoos, cell phones and jewelry? I suspect it is because the “check” is in the mail and therefore their “star chart” remains perpetually full.

On one more note, I wonder sometimes when I stopped being an authority figure and became a waitress. Seems the kids play happily until they find me idle then demands for snack time etc. start. I know I’ve created this environment. Heck, their parents love happy, indulged, little people at day’s end. My livelihood is based upon the happy parent. I’m too old to tread lightly and submissively any more. If the kids go home and complain about my rules…so be it.

Vacation time is beckoning, don’t you think? 🙂

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9 thoughts on “Bunk and Positive Reinforcement: I need a vacation!

    • Thanks Charles…the philosophy that I had hoped my granddaughter would absorb was reflected in a comment she made a few days ago. Katherine was visiting my mother and had forgotten to bring her sneakers for the walk home. When she got some mud on her ankle (she was wearing flip-flops) she looked up at her great-grandmother and said,” I really don’t like this but I guess I’ll have to deal with it.”

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