Wednesday, September 30, 2009

token behavior systems

Last week I checked out Colleen Alexander-Roberts' book, The AD/HD Parenting Handbook, Practical Advice for Parents from Parents, proven techniques for raising hyperactive children without losing your temper (2nd Edition)

The author dealt with moderate to severe AD/HD symptoms and successfully utilized a play-money token behavior system.  Her children were also on medication.  She writes:

"In our home we used play money.  We had a chart with household rules on it.  Each rule was worth a specific amount, anywhere from one dollar to twenty.  Every time our son followed a rule, he received the agreed amount. The money he earned was placed in an envelope for one week.  During the week he had to spend this money. We charged him five dollars an hour to play a video game, two dollars an hour to ride his bike, ten dollars an hour to play games on the computer, three dollars to watch a rented video, and two dollars to watch an hour of television.  Every Saturday, he turned in what was left of the money he earned.  For every ten dollars in play money he turned in, he received one dollar in cash. He was able to spend this money as he wished or save it for something special he wanted to buy.  In this case, once we gave a reward (the play money, for instance), we never took the reward away.  Instead, for noncompliance we used time-out, took away a privilege, or assigned an extra household chore.  We never took away what he had already been rewarded."

"We used this play-money system very successfully for quite some time.  The original household rules were replaced by new house rules two months after we initiated this system; we had achieved the desired effect.  However, no reward system works forever, so be ready to substitute another system when needed.  Always seek professional help if reward systems do not work with your child."

I started a sticker chart with Daniel and Timothy on our first day of school.  The thing is, I hate sticker charts! They do work with my boys, but I eventually get bored of them (or too busy) and drop the ball.  Already, yesterday and again today, I forgot to update their stickers.

Today I discussed this new system with them, and they seem quite intrigued.  Momma is intrigued for a number of reasons, not the least of which is this system's potential for curbing screen time. So off we went to the dollar store, in search of play money.

Incidentally, I hate the idea of charging play money for a bike ride.  That seems counter-productive to me, since exercise is healthy and desired and especially beneficial to AD/HD children.  Yeah, charge money for any type of screen time, but not for exercise.

We're jumping in and starting the play-money system tomorrow.  They are excited.  I am resolved to do everything I can to make it work.  For a successful school day, there are two rules I really need them to follow:

1.  Follow directions the first time they're given.
2.  Clean up without arguing.

There are five rules altogether, but these are the two that really make a difference in our school day.  My boys hate clean-up time.  I've struggled for all these years with their poor clean-up attitudes.  Partly, the difficulty is due to the bin organization system for our playroom.  Putting smallish things into the correct bins is a lot more difficult than throwing all the toys into one large toybox.

Anyhow, I'll keep you posted on the wonders of play money.

 If you have difficulty getting your child moving in the morning, she suggests that each step of the morning routine be written out for your child, in words or pictures.  None of her suggestions are particularly novel, but she has plenty of them, for many different problem areas.  The book also includes ideas from many other AD/HD-seasoned parents.

There is also a very good chapter--written by a physician friend of hers--on AD/HD medications (penned in 2006).