Thursday, April 2, 2015
Cruz Bucks for the Win!
In honor of my month of settling, I wanted to share another success we've finally encountered when it comes to hitting the reset button on yet another bad habit that developed when everything went awry. Cruz Man developed the habit of crawling into bed with us, a habit I know I am not alone on when I talk to several other parents of toddlers. It became a problem when it wasn't a random thing anymore, but a nightly thing, and when it didn't seem like any of us were benefiting from it. We kept letting it go because it always seemed as if one more new transition was ahead of us - first, Mila joined our lives and woke everyone up multiple times a night, then, we were so close to moving, then, we were at my parents', and then, we just needed a few weeks to get used to our new surroundings. Well, we're used to it, Cruz has a nice cozy bed and big room all to himself, and we are officially out of excuses!
We've tried many different tactics --- sticker charts, lima beans, middle-of-the-night snuggles, an OK to Wake clock, and gentle kicks and stolen pillows in our bed as a ploy to make things less comfortable for our wiggler, but haven't had much luck. He just keeps coming back. So just when I had decided to try yet another sticker chart, my husband had the brilliant idea to bring back and old friend from Cruz's 2nd birthday party. When we were unpacking one night, we came across some leftover Cruz Bucks, a personalized paper dollar bill we used for a makeshift Mr. Hooper's Store at Cruz's Sesame Street birthday party. We showed them to our little capitalist and he was immediately intrigued. I gave it a day, but he's surprised me every day since and I'm pleased to say he's met his first goal! Ten days in a row of a little boy who's decided his bed is really pretty great.
Here's how it works for us. Cruz has the opportunity to earn two Cruz bucks every night. First, he has to go to bed when we say, with just a few minutes of cuddles instead of the half hour it had become lately. We read a few books, say our prayers, and snuggle for a few minutes. Prior to this, he wanted someone to lay with him until he fell asleep, which usually meant whoever was laying with him also fell asleep and the rest of their night was shot. Second, Cruz gets another Cruz buck when he stays in his bed all night, or at least until his clock lights up at 6. The very first night, he slept in until after 7. We chalked it up to a fluke, but celebrated the coincidence and really talked up the earned buck. The next night, he woke up once, but we kindly reminded him of his Cruz buck and he willingly scurried back to bed. And much to our surprise, he's been great ever since. We made our first goal within reach - twenty Cruz bucks earns him a trip to Target to turn in his bucks for real cash and pick out something he wants. We have a date to Target planned for Saturday and I'm anxious to see how it goes from there. We've talked about turning this into a little financial planning for our guy, teaching him to save up Cruz bucks if he sees something that's over his savings, but we'll see what Saturday brings. :)
I've been so amazed at our progress that I had to share for anyone else who may be struggling with finding an effective rewards system for their child. A couple nights ago, I heard Cruz get up and use the bathroom. Before I even made my way to his room, he was already climbing back into bed! And this morning, we came in at 5:45, fifteen minutes before his clock would light up. He said he had to go potty and I told him to use our bathroom. When he came back in, I told him to climb in with us so I could snuggle with him. And what did he say? "No, Mommy, I need to sweep in my bed!" Hallelujah, people!
Whatever your opinions are on extrinsic motivation, we are praising its effectiveness with our son and are all sleeping much better at night! If you are interested in making some personalized bills of your own, check out http://www.festisite.com/money/