I have been so slack this last month here on the old blog. Several weeks ago M was put on the token system. I had already separated him and S and the token system was just another tool to teach him reciprocity. As any RAD mom knows, our kids do not understand reciprocity, or the act of reciprocal relationships. Give and take, a mutual understanding. Our kids are all take, take, take and after a while (years in this case) it gets old. M would start out the day with 3 tokens, if he made his bed my way, took care of personal hygiene (not usually an issue with him) and did his chore right. In return he could spend a token on a family breakfast (oatmeal and bland cereal doesn’t “cost” anything) and a token for calling us mom and dad. He always wanted to call us mom and dad. For him, he believes we’re his family, he just doesn’t do his part to be reciprocal. There’s that word again. So basically if he wanted a family meal he had to pay a token and I even charged him a token to talk at the dinner table because that is often one of the places he monopolizes with bad attention. The gist of all this is that I got to offer him privileges when and IF I wanted to. If he was pushing all my buttons I didn’t offer him squat. It removed the “lovin’ feelin'” relationship and made it a business one. He had to pay me to go over schoolwork with me, pay if he wanted to be beside me on our walks instead of riding his bike, pay for reading with Dad, etc.
How did he earn tokens? Lots and lots of chores. Oh my goodness, my house hasn’t been this clean in a long time. Basically a token for 15 minutes of work (based on how long it SHOULD take, not how long it actually takes 🙂 and he pays me a token for 15 minutes of my time. Good attitudes and not arguing might earn tokens. I might give him a token just because I wanted to or I might take one away for wasting my time playing ignorant. If we picked up pizza (we rarely eat out) he had to pay a token for the dollar value of his food. He also had to strong sit every time he wanted to ask me something (which he had been doing for a while). Which can also get very annoying at times. Like having a puppy underneath your feet all the time.
What was the purpose of all this and what did it achieve? I really thought we’d be on it forever. Even though he was motivated to earn tokens and he usually did his chores my way, his heart was just not moving any closer to mine. I am not interested in correct behavior (well, it’s helpful but it’s not the main goal). I’m interested in a shift in his heart, an acceptance that love means security and trust and faith and all those blessings. M is an expert at playing the part of a family kid but stays angry at me because I nail him on the motivations of his heart. I believe we have a limited amount of time to reach him and I’m willing to do whatever, even doling out tokens day after day.
Knowing vacation was coming up I started tapering off the token system a little at a time, not really counting them and telling him we’re rewarding his working by easing him back into family status. By the time of our vacation last week we pretty much let him have full privileges. First time he had hung around or really had a relationship with S in weeks and weeks. Good for him, bad for her. The rest of this tale to come soon….