Summer Behavior Plan

My daughter is very well-behaved. I don’t say this to brag or take credit, because I really can’t; it’s just who she is. She’s very rule-bound and risk-averse – both of which are generally good personality traits, but pose challenges, too.

Despite her typically good beahvior, there are a few things I’ve literally been telling her to do FOR YEARS, to no avail. These include:

  1. Sit correctly at the dinner table.
  2. Bring your dishes into the kitchen when you finish a meal or snack.
  3. Clean up after yourself, before moving onto another project or activity.
  4. Tidy your room every day.
  5. Put your clothing/pajamas away or into the laundry after you take them off.

With summer vacation beginning next week, I’m thinking about things I’d like to accomplish before September. Getting my daughter to make habits out of these behaviors is at the top of that list. As a result, I’ve been thinking about a plan for doing so, that will also keep frustration and conflict to a minimum.  I found some good ideas here, and I’m sure Pinterest is full of great ideas, too. Ultimately, I opted to borrow what my daughter’s kindergarten and first-grade teachers used for classroom behavior. They each had a glass bowl into which pom-poms were placed whenever a student or group of students was “caught” behaving well. I like this idea because it rewards – and hopefully reinforces – good behavior, rather than punishing bad behavior.

I’ll also have an accompanying prize bin, filled with dollar-store type items. When my daughter receives 10 pom-poms, she can choose a prize from the bin. She’s strongly motivated by rewards, so I think this will work well for us. I told her about it last night, and she liked the idea. She even suggested adding a “grand prize” reward for the end of the summer. That would involve tracking pom-poms earned throughout the entire summer, which may be more than I want to take on, but I’ll keep thinking about it…

Do you have summer behavior goals for your kid(s)? What are your favorite positive reinforcement systems?

Summer Break is Right Around the Corner

I work (very) part-time as career counselor at a local college. My sole responsibility is to meet with students individually, and help them with various aspects of their job and internship searches. I don’t attend meetings, participate in events, or teach classes. But because I only meet with students, I only work when they’re on-campus and coming into the career center. I’m off during their six-week winter break, their spring break, and summers. As I write this in mid-June, I’ve already been on summer break for almost six weeks.

Here in our part of upstate New York, school gets out in late June, which means my daughter will be starting her summer break in a matter of days. This fills me with both excitement and terror. On the one hand, my daughter is at a great age – 6 ½ – and is a lot of fun to do things with. I love chatting with her, watching her learn new things, and creating memories together. On the other hand, she’s an only child, which means she often looks to her parents for companionship and entertainment. I can only play so many hands of Go Fish!, make so many crafts, and watch so many of her performances, before I need a break. So being home together for approximately 10 weeks can get dicey.

However, I’m pretty proud of how I handled her recent April break week, and plan to model our summer break on it. During that week, I planned one “fun thing” every day. We went to several events at the awesome Saratoga Springs library, had several playdates (at our house and other people’s), and went into the “big city” of Albany to meet my husband for lunch near his office one day. There was something for her to look forward to every day, but we weren’t so over-scheduled that I felt like I was running around too much. We both got appropriate amounts of socialization and quiet time. (We’re introverts, so quiet time is a priority!)

This summer will be a little different because she’ll be attending several weeks of camps, plus we’ll be taking a week-long family vacation. But there will be plenty of unstructured time to fill with more library events, playdates galore, visits to local attractions like Adirondack Animal Land, several state parks, and the farmers’ market, and performances at the wonderful Saratoga Performing Arts Center. I’m feeling ready; bring it on, summer!

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Fun at SPAC last year

How are your family’s summer days and weeks? Do you create a lot of structure, or keep things loose?