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October 04, 2011


kris (lower case)

think of the gummy bears as their pay check. that is what they work (have decent table behavior) for. you would not work without a pay check...neither will they. though i imagine after a couple months it will die a natural death. once the behavior is truly established they will keep to it most of the time out of habit. habits take awhile to develope.


Using food rewards can be tricky. What I've done is use the reward for several weeks until the new behavior pattern is well established. Then I say "you have done so well, you don't need such a big reward anymore. You are past that." Then I take it away. If the previous behaviors return, I do a different (slightly less appealing reward.)


I've used lolly rewards a few times with no problems- I agree it dies a natural death and by then it's a habit.


One idea that my sister used in the mornings for school was to give each kid a "grade" on their "getting up and ready" routine. Instead of correcting them during the rush (which is what I do), she would wait until the end of the morning and on the way to school give them each a "grade" with feedback on how to get better. It seemed to work with her kids (boys), but my kids got competitive and sensitive about it.
I feel your pain about dinner time. My kids are 8 and 10, and we still correct them (napkins in lap, elbows off the table) when it used to be "sit down, don't get up" and "don't sit on your knees" etc etc.


We used treats for potty training, and what we did was set an end-of-treat line. Like, when they're Age X, they no longer get treats, or when they've accomplished X level of training, they no longer get treats. But potty-training is usually done when it's done: that is, a child isn't going to start wetting his pants again to get treats, once the potty-training is totally established. But table manners seem like they'd be in a totally different category.

I've found that sometimes with reward systems I just commit to a longggggg use of the system, knowing that at SOME POINT they won't still need it. Like, in this case (a system that sounds really good and I might want to try that too), I'd think, "Well. They won't still need the gummi bears in college. I hope. So...sometime between now and college we will stop using the gummi bears, and we won't turn our minds to it right now, we will just wait and see when that time occurs."

Another problem I've encountered and HAVEN'T found a solution for is how to control the behavior when the reward has been fully taken away. That is, after they've lost three bears, THEN what? In a similar system we tried (rewards taken away gradually for bad behavior on outings), at the point where they'd lost all the rewards, they felt they could now behave as badly as they wanted, because they'd lost all the rewards anyway.


I don't see the need to extinguish the gummy bear system.

Just keep going until one day you forget to put them out and they behave well anyway.


I agree with the previous comments : it will die naturally. You can help it along by gradually decreasing the number of gummy bears they start with. So after two months, for example (or some length of time that will allow proper behavior to feel like a true habit), they start out with only two bears. Then, later, only one.

You'll figure it out. Cool system though!


our reward systems also just tend to die a natural death..no one seems to remember after a few weeks.
i always think of you when you once asked how kids can just fall out of their chairs during dinner. my six year old FELL CLEAN OFF HIS CHAIR ONTO HIS HEAD last night during dinner. WTF!?!!?

Mrs. Williams

Thank you for this post! I am not the only one who feels this way at dinner time. I LOVE that you eat dinner as a family. This is one thing that is important to my husband and I. My husband works a crazy schedule but if he is home we always eat together at the table with the tv turned off. Our youngest daughter is so messy. It drives Mr.W and I crazy. It’s the same conversation every night and it gets so frustrating. My parents will be celebrating their 40th anniversary in December. We will be going to a fancy restaurant as a family, we have been stressing the importance of using our table manners so we don’t get our fancy clothes messy. I like the idea of the gummy bears and feel the same way. I love hearing that I am not the only mom that feels this way and has issues with dinner time.

Husband A

I don't even think of it as using food as a reward. They don't even always EAT the Gummi Bears!

I think they need something concrete to focus on to remember how to behave. I think "good manners" is just too abstract to focus on. Gummi Bears they understand. "Three Gummi Bears is a good number of Gummi Bears. Two Gummi Bears would be a worse number. Let's keep it at three."


Searching for that pork tenderloin recipe you had on here a while ago - the one with garlic, brown sugar and Montreal seasoning?? This was you that posted it I believe....
You need a new category - recipes!!

As an aside - if I did use a reward technique for behavior I used to tell the boys to tell me when they thought they could achieve the behavior without the reward. I said let me know when you got, then I'll know you're growing up.


we tried the system from Parenthacks, too, recently, and it is mostly working, unless KT (3) is too tired. Then she forgets to use her manners, loses a (candy corn), and FLIPS THE HECK OUT. Then we spend the rest of dinner calming her down slash sending her to time out.


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