Friday, September 18, 2009

Penalty Chores

I know. It doesn't sound pleasant does it? To tell you the truth, I'm not crazy about the fact that I had to implement this system. But it has helped with some issues we deal with here. I really prefer to use more natural consequences. Such as: "If daily work isn't done, it has to be done in the evening." "Not eating dinner (because they don't like something) can lead to going to bed hungry." etc.

However, we deal with some things with Pooh that just drive me batty. He's a yeller. His faulty emotional regulation can lead him into some awful fits of rage. (I say awful because to me they are. I do understand that other mothers of autistic children deal with rages that are a whole lot worse.) Just this past week he had worked himself into a fit about something. He was in his room but he was just doing his deep screaming (kind of lion roaring) and banging things around. I ended up going in there and very firmly telling him to STOP. I told him what he was going to do. "You are going to stop yelling, right now! You WILL get control of yourself! You will not scream and you will not damage anything in this room." He did it. He stopped yelling. He was still angry but he stopped the raging. After a few minutes, we were then able to actually talk about the problem and come to an understanding. Sometimes that's what I have to do to break through his one track thinking.

That's kind of what the penalty chores do for him too. For a while he has angrily yelled "You're Fired!" at me, Dad and even others who anger him. I've tried talking to him about it. We discussed what it means and that it's a disrespectful thing to say. Would he want others to say it to him? There are other ways to express anger. Etc. He didn't care. I tried understanding his need to express himself. But then I just got tired of it. One day I decided that was it. Enough was enough. (This isn't the only thing he yells when he's angry, just an example.)

Now if he says it he gets a penalty chore. If he yells "I hate you!" he gets a penalty chore. Those things are now totally not an option here. As soon as I instituted the penalty chores, you could see him working on stopping what he was doing. He'd start to say it and stop himself. Something finally got through. Do I wish it was something else? Yes, but I have to go with what is working right now.

The first week we started this new program he really threw some fits. He even told me very calmly one evening, "I command you to stop giving me penalty chores." LOL So we ended up having a 15 minute chat about my responsibilities as his mom and how some other things we tried weren't working. I would make a declarative statement, he would think about it and try to come up with something easier as a punishment. He was trying to negotiate a lighter sentence. ;D I wish I could remember the whole conversation because his reasoning on some things was very interesting! After that, he said in a very dejected voice, "Fine." He did his penalty chores the next day very quickly and was fine. Some times he'll go days without anything and then there have been a couple of days where he racked up 9 chores!

We don't use the penalty chores for everything. There are plenty of other consequences that can happen for other stuff. We basically use them for out and out disobedience and disrespect. He's allowed to be upset about stuff but not to the point of causing the whole house to be topsy turvy.

Here are some things that we use as Penalty Chores:

Washing various walls.
Wash doorknobs.
Wash lightswitches.
Wash doors (inside and out)
Clean windows.
Clean mirrors.
Door frames
Window sills
Raking pine needles
Sweeping porches/sidewalk
Clean doors of fridge/freezer/stove
Wash cabinet doors

None of these are very complicated. It's just the doing of them that hits home. It's either a soapy washcloth or vinegar spray and cloth that does the cleaning. I don't use harsh cleaners so that isn't something I have to worry about.

Yes, Tigger does get in on the action. He's a little spitfire and his mouth can get him into real trouble. He's done his share of wall washing. I think they must get the yelling from the King's side of the family. It CAN'T be from mine. ;D Really, though, some of Pooh's behavior has rubbed off onto Tigger. I do have a hard time knowing where to draw the line with Pooh's autistic acting out and just plain 'this isn't acceptable' behavior. Where does the autism end and the just plain being bratty begin?

I'll go with this system for as long as it works. I do have to say that we have had more conversations this summer about behavior and ways to do things than we ever did before. Not sure if it's the system, a maturing process or what. But I'm not going to change anything until I need to! Don't want to rock the boat.

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