Sunday, July 05, 2009

Creating motivational opportunities

Anybody who saw my Facebook status yesterday read that I have been resorting to bribery lately. I thought it was funny that the friends who responded were all parents. Funny, and not at all surprising.

So there are two areas in which we've increased our motivational efforts.

The first is in potty training. Our recent system has been to reward with a sticker for no accidents during the day and one for pooping in the toilet (which continues to be a serious sticking point). We've decided to throw in a couple more opportunities for no accidents at night. So far, we haven't been able to convince him to get out of bed when the urge hits, so he still wears pull-ups at night.

(Our neighbor whose son reminds us so much of Scooter in terms of sensory and social issues told us that he didn't stop wearing pull-ups at night until age 8. I said to Trillian, "If we have our second child when Scooter's 8 and that child is similar, we could be dealing with diapers for 16 years--for only two kids.)

Every sticker covers one letter in the word "Dollar." 6 stickers, 1 dollar. And now we have a variety of Legos that he can "purchase" from us. Extra motivation.

The second area, a new one, is food. Scooter's never eaten a broad variety of foods, but all of the food groups were represented, so we didn't worry too much. Multi-vitamin to cover the gaps, and we went along just fine. Now, we're down mostly to carbs and dairy with occasional protein (from the dairy and a few choice meat products). Once upon a time, his pediatrician said not to worry about veggies since he was eating a variety of fruit. Besides 100% fruit juice (the only way he'll do oranges), he used to eat apples, pears, blueberries, strawberries, and grapes. We're down to the occasional apple slice now (and the little bit of zucchini I snuck into him via those cookies, though he refused those today--sigh).

In one of the many books I've read about dealing with sensory issues, the suggestion was made to pay the child for interactions with new foods. The demands start at the level of looking at and touching the food. Then sniffing and touching with one's tongue. They're supposed to be easier tasks, a slow introduction to the food.

With Scooter, he gets a quarter for each step, culminating with several bites and swallows. We've decided to allow him to earn the full amount for a new food as many as 5 times, in the hopes that he'll get to the point where he decides he likes it enough to eat on its own. So often, he'll try one bite of something, announce that it tastes good, but not want to have any more--maybe because of the novelty more than anything else? He's agreed to give peanut butter a go next. Seriously, the kid has never had a peanut butter sandwich.

This could all backfire. He may simply do these things as long as he gets a reward and then stop. I'm hoping we appeal to his sense of routine, however, and sneak in these new behaviors before he can think better of them.


karen said...

It sounds like you're handling these challenges with grace and creativity. Hopefully, Scooter will play along.

kgirl said...

That was me. Too many bloody gmail acc'ts to keep track of.