I came up with a new incentive program for Jack. If he goes five complete days with no temper tantrums or fights with his cousins, and if he does his chores and homework without complaining then He gets a prize. I knew I needed a reward that he would really want bad. I had an idea that I think was inspired. I offered to go to his school at lunchtime and eat school lunch with him among his friends in the cafeteria.
I am sure the time will come when having his mother come eat lunch with him will be more effective as a punishment than an incentive but for now he is so excited about the possibility of school lunch with me that he will do just about anything to earn it. We made a chart on the fridge and at the end of each good day I draw a smiley face in the box. If I see him getting into a disagreement with a Gartner child or I hear him start to whine I say "Ooohhh, I would hate for you to lose your smiley face for the whole day over this! I am really hoping you get your chart filled soon because I can hardly wait to go to your school for lunch!" It has so far worked like a charm. He shapes up immediately upon threat of losing his smiley face.
I looked at the chart this morning and noticed something odd. He has three smiley faces and we have only done this program for two days. He forged the third smiley face. He honestly thought I would be fooled. He went to the trouble of finding the same marker in the cabinet to make his forgery look authentic. I give him credit for his inventive way of speeding up the process but at the same time I am horrified that he would miss the point so entirely. I think its hilarious that he didn't fill up the chart. He just added one extra. He thought he'd just slide it in under my radar.
I considered abandoning the whole thing as a punishment but decided against it. Instead I pulled him aside and said "Hey Jack, I noticed that you added an extra smiley face to the chart today. I assume that you did that because you have set a goal to have a great day today and you were putting the smiley face on there in advance to help you reach your goal."
His face turned red. He was embarrassed to be caught but relieved to have an out "Yeah. I was just putting it on there in advance."
"Oh, that's what I thought. I understand that you really want to fill up that chart but in the future you should know that you are not allowed to add smileys on your own. It is my job and I always know how many there should be on there."
You will notice in the picture that I have started to add a signature to each smiley face in an effort to thwart counterfeiting attempts.