What’s The Hottest New Tablet For Kids This Season? The VTech InnoTab MAX! {giveaway, too}

This post was brought to you by VTech.  All opinions about the VTech tablet for kids are that of my guest reviewer or my own.

If you have been to the toy section at any major store recently, you will see lots and lots of great products to choose from.  If you have narrowed it down and you have decided you are buying your child (or a child you know) a tablet, you may wonder how they are different and what advantages one tablet has over another.  Well, I had a guest reviewer check out the new VTech InnoTab MAX with her twin six year-olds and they were sold within the first hour of opening it. 

The VTech InnoTab MAX is recommended for children ages 3-9 and sells for around $109.  It is VTech's 4th generation kids' learning tablet, featuring its fastest processor yet.  It has up to six times the processing power of previous generations and a 7" high-resolution, multi-touch screen display.  It's the perfect size for little hands!  The InnoTab MAX also has enhanced their Premium VTech Kid Connect and at no additional charge, allows kids and parents to exchange voice and text messages, photos, drawings, and fun stickers in real time between the InnoTab MAX and a smartphone.  How awesome is that?

VTech InnoTab MAX

Okay, aside from the cool, techie side, the InnoTab MAX is excellent for educational purposes, too.  It is NOT just a toy.  Kids have access to more than 650 educator endorsed, age and stage appropriate learning titles as well as carefully cultivated educational Android apps that can be purchased and downloaded through VTech's Learning Lodge app store.  Parental controls allow parents to manage their child's apps, web access, and tablet time, as well as view a progress log.  This is so helpful because kids and parents alike can get carried away, so it's helpful to have all of that information in one place. 

Other great features include:

  • ​​The tablet comes with 15 onboard apps including Premium VTech Kid Connect, My Magic Beanstalk, Movie Maker, Art, Wonder Cam Max, E-Reader with Story Dictionary, and more.
  • comes with one free Toca Boca app and two additional free apps that can be downloaded from the Learning Lodge
  • built-in rechargeable Lithium battery
  • kid-safe Wi-Fi
  • durable kid-friendly cover that can be removed, also acts as a stand
  •  plays videos and mp3 songs
  • 180° rotating camera
  • 8 GB memory – expandable up to 40 GB with a 32 GB microSD card
  • and much more!

VTech InnoTab MAX2Both of the kids absolutely loved the InnoTab MAX.  It is very kid friendly!  They were able to figure out almost everything on their own.  It is something that they can use together, alone, or with their parents and that is a major plus!  It's great for waiting for her brother at baseball practice, the doctor's office, or when you have a few minutes to reward the kids for positive behavior.  They really love it!

Check out the VTech Kids website, Facebook, and Twitter to learn more about the InnoTab MAX!  Purchase it on Amazon, too!

Enter to win this season's hottest new electronic toy in the Rafflecopter below.  You don't have much time, so I've added some extra entries to help you out.  Good luck!

VTech InnoTab Max Giveaway

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Gifts For The Kid Who Has Everything: Kiwi Crate and Koala Crate Subscription Boxes

This post has been brought to you by Kiwi Crate.  All opinions are mine

Since becoming a homeschooling mom, I have found that I struggle to come up with engaging, educational crafts for the boys.  Pinterest is my frenemy!  I find the perfect activities on Pinterest, but then the busy side of me sets in and I cannot get everything together.  I am not organized enough to gather all the materials and get a craft done in any appropriate amount of time.  I've come to grips with that.  With that said, you will understand my sheer excitement when the boys each received a box with their name on it containing instructions, craft materials, and extra activities that were age appropriate and meaningful.  It was like someone came and led an afternoon long educational arts and crafts lesson that the boys loved.  

The Captain opened his Wild West Kiwi Crate, which is geared for kids ages 4-8, while D and Baby Brother were taking a nap.  (No little brothers with sticky fingers makes for a better experience, you know.)  The Captain read something about a hobby horse.  I admit, I was left thinking I was going to have to scour the house to find a stick or something that we could use because there was NO way that Kiwi Crate fit one in their box.  Except they did!  The oh so wise company included a paper roll, about the size of a paper towel roll and inside was a slightly smaller roll.  All we had to do was pull it out and put a cute bandanna sticker to hold it in place and instantly we had a "stick" long enough!  The Captain was able to read the directions and all I had to do was help him to remove the backing on some of the stickers.  His hobby horse had eyes, a mane, ears…and he absolutely loved it.  The whole Wild West theme, crafts, and more were right up his alley.  He also was able to create bean bags by threading a piece of yarn through holes (hello fine motor skills!) in precut material.  Brilliant.  

Wild West Kiwi Crate Box

After D woke from his nap, I showed him his Koala Crate and he was so excited!  Usually he has to team up with his older brother for craft projects, but not with Koala Crate.  It was geared for his age and he was able to do everything without being frustrated or needing lots of extra help.  His Koala Crate was all about learning colors and included crayons, watercolor paints, a soft color dice toy, transparency sheets for exploring colors and color mixing, and a garland to paint!  He loved the scavenger hunt game and painting the garland.  So much fun!

koala crate

Kiwi Crate is an award-winning, monthly subscription service that provides all the hands-on materials to inspire creative, educational fun. With themes like Music, Color, Robots, and Safari, these crates deliver everything needed for unique activities that you and your kids can enjoy together. We know parents are pressed for time, so Kiwi Crate makes it easy to engage your children in creative activities that are both fun and educational.  Monthly crates include all the materials & inspiration for 2-3 hands-on projects, delivered to your door! Plus, a 16-page magazine with activities to extend the learning & fun. Subscribers receive a bonus welcome kit + FREE shipping. Available to the US & Canada.

There are different crates for different age levels and interests:

  • Koala Crate:  ages 3-4
  • Kiwi Crate: ages 4-8
  • Tinker Crate: ages 9-14+
  • Doodle Crate: ages 9-16+

These monthly subscription boxes would make a great, year-round Christmas gift for a kid or teen who has everything.  There are new surprises every month, creativity to be explored, and lots of fun to be had!  Visit Kiwi Crate and use code "LWCF5off" to save $5 off of your first crate with a subscription to any crate!

Connect with Kiwi Crate:

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Pinterest

 

 

Prepare For Dry Winter Skin and Soothe Irritating Eczema

I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Influence-Central for #AveenoEczemaTherapy. I received a sample to facilitate my review and a thank you item for participating.

aveeno #AveenoEczemaTherapyOctober is National Eczema Awareness Month and with good reason.  When the temperatures start getting cooler, I know now that I need to be prepared with an arsenal to combat our eczema.  It seems that the dry, cold winter weather is awful on our skin. The Captain has suffered with eczema many winters, and Baby Brother is following in his footsteps.  

What Is Eczema ?

Eczema is a chronic skin disorder that affects approximately 35 million infants, children, and adults in the United States.  Inflammation causes the skin to become itchy, red, and dry.  Extreme cases can cause the skin to become leathery, cracked, and bleeding.  Eczema can be caused by stress, heat and sweat, temperature changes, extreme cold and dry climates, heredity, allergens, or irritants.  In our case, heredity plays a huge factor. We haven't been able to isolate any known cause of our eczema, but we do know that the dry winter weather causes flareups.
 
I have bad hand eczema, even though I use fragrance free products or products with natural oils and scents.  I think it's just part of being a mom with sensitive skin and frequently washing my hands. The Aveeno eczema hand therapy cream really helps!  If I remember to moisturize my hands throughout the day when I feel them begin to get dry, they feel awesome. 

aveeno

It was recommended to us by a dermatologist recently that we should limit the boys baths to once or twice a week.  I feel better about giving the boys a bath now that we have Eczema Therapy soothing bath treatment from Aveeno.  This bath additive is fragrance free, tear-free, and provides relief for our dry, itchy, irritated eczema skin.  
 

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After the bath, we follow up with Aveeno Eczema Therapy moisturizing cream.  It is thick and really seals in the moisture!  Our skin feels so soft afterwards and our dry skin is soothed!
 

eczema dos and don'ts

 
Dermatologist Kenneth Beer M.D. has provided some dos and don'ts for eczema that were helpful:
  • DO use hydrating cleansers and barrier creams with soothing ingredients like colloidal oatmeal daily to maintain the integrity of the skins barrier.
  • DO look for products with ceramide – an essential lipid naturally found within the skin that plays a key role in enhancing and restoring the skin's protective function.
  • DO you use fragrance free laundry detergent to wash clothing, sheets and towels and avoid dryer sheets.
  • DON'T  use body lotions with irritants which can aggravate skin and cause eczema to flare.
  • DON'T  use products with fragrances or harsh dyes.
Also, remember to look for products with the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance.
We have tried so many different products and I know that all of these suggestions, plus a combination of high quality eczema products like Aveeno helps with the horrible eczema symptoms we have had!  If we stay on top of it and keep our skin moisturizer throughout the winter, I think we will have healthier skin. 
 
To learn more about eczema, visit www.nationaleczema.org.
 
For more information about Aveeno eczema therapy products, visit Aveeno.com and Facebook.com/Aveeno.
 

How do you prevent and treat eczema?

 

 

Read “Treasury of Bible Stories: Rhythmical Rhymes of Biblical Times” with Your Children

propeller giveaway

 

 

 

I treasure the times that our family can read together.  It is one of the most special times of the day.  Often, I miss out on bedtime with the older two because I am putting Baby Brother to bed, but when I do get to do the nightly routine with the boys, we love to read a Bible story together.  Sometimes the Captain will read a page and then me, and then Daddy, all taking turns.  The boys love to hear stories from the Bible, especially Joshua and the battle of Jericho.  We have loved reading the Treasury of Bible Stories by Kelly Pulley.

Treasury of Bible Stories one sheet

 

The Treasury of Bible Stories is a rhyming Bible storybook that has playful, engaging, vibrant pictures that are fun to explore.  It is important to note that the treasury isn’t word for word Bible verses, but Kelly has taken timeless Bible stories and reworded them into fun rhymes.  This is very educational for the boys so they can predict what word is coming next.

photo 3 (3)

 

From “A Silly-Sounding Plan:  The Dizzying Tale of Joshua at Jericho,” based on Joshua 1-6:
Though the plan sounded silly, the people obeyed,

because God always did as He said.

So all of the priests got in place in the line

with armed guards in the rear and ahead.

Then they marched around Jericho once every day,

and repeated – six days in a row.

On day number seven, they made seven trips

when they finally heard trumpets blow.”

Each Bible story is told in a whimsical way that holds the boys’ attention.  They have heard most of these stories before, but the author presents them in a way that is new and fun and makes the stories come alive!  They relate to the characters in the stories and see how God had His hand in all of their stories.  I highly recommend this book for anyone with children who love to learn about the Bible and picture what it was like in Bible times.

 

Visit Christian Book to purchase this book for birthdays, Christmas, or just because.

We are giving away a copy of this great book!  Enter to win a copy of “Treasury of Bible Stories” for a child you know!

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Give Your Teenager Straight Teeth with a Dose of Self Confidence with Invisalign Teen

This post was brought to you by Invisalign.  All opinions are mine.

For some reason, I was blessed with straight teeth.  (The Captain likes to point out my one slightly crooked tooth, but thankfully that’s the extent of it.)  Hubby, on the other hand, had braces for a year and a half as a teenager, and has a permanent retainer on his bottom teeth.  I did not know him until college and would not have known otherwise, but he said wearing braces was not fun.  His least favorite part was getting hit in the mouth with a ball or an elbow, which, as you can guess, happened a lot as an active teenager.  He says the braces caused him to bleed and then get a sore in his mouth that would take a long time to heal.  I can only imagine how awful that would have been.  I truly feel for everyone who has had to have braces for any length of time!

So far, our kids’ teeth are all baby teeth, so we do not know what their dental future holds.  D already has an overbite, though, and the dentist said we would just have to watch it over the years.  I think it’s safe to assume that a need for braces in at least one of the boy’s futures.  It’s coming up sooner than I thought, though, because The American Association of Orthodontics recommends taking kids for their first orthodontic check-up NO LATER than age 7!  The American Dental Association says this is because “Your child’s dentist can spot problems with emerging teeth and jaw growth early on, while the primary teeth are present.”  Who knew!?  I didn’t!

Invisalign

I was excited to learn about Invisalign as an alternative to braces.  Invisalign Teen clear aligners straighten teeth without traditional wires and brackets.  Teens and pre-teens will have more confidence and not suffer the painful mouth sores and cuts that braces wearers suffer.  Some other great benefits to Invisalign Teen include:

 

  • removable, which means brushing and flossing are easy and there are no food restrictions!
  • can straighten teeth without a mouth full of metal
  • Teens and pre-teens can play sports without fear of injury and continue cheerleading, playing musical instruments, acting, and singing without interference.
  • no broken wires or brackets, so no emergency visits to the orthodontist
  • fewer appointments required since several aligner sets are provided in advance
  • Invisalign Teen includes up to six free replacement aligners, although clinical data from orthodontists confirms that teens wear their aligners an average of 21 hours per day, just as recommended.
  • Small blue dots, officially called “compliance indicators,” gradually fade as aligners are worn. It’s a quick visual check for doctors, teens and parents to confirm aligners are being worn enough to get results.
  • In case you’re wondering, Invisalign Teen is just as effective as traditional wire and bracket braces.  Invisalign can correct the most severe teeth straightening and minor cosmetic adjustments, as well.
  • Invisalign Teen costs about the same as braces, so it’s definitely worth it to check it out.  Most insurance companies will cover Invisalign – just like traditional braces – up to 50%.  HSA’s can also be used for Invisalign

 

 

Invisalign compare to braces

content_StraightTalk-Invisalign-Infographic

 

I was encouraged by these before and after pictures. IF D still has an overbite in a few years, we will look to find an orthodontist who specializes in Invisalign.  These results are great:

invisalign results fix overbite_alice

 

Check to see if your orthodontist specializes in Invisalign or find an ortho who does.  Visit the Invisalign website and click “find a doctor” to locate experienced Invisalign and Invisalign Teen doctors in your area.  Follow Invisalign on Twitter and Facebook, too.

Do you have questions or want to see if this is right for you or your child?  Find out the answers to your questions about Invisalign and see more Invisalign results on the website!

Have you brought your child for an orthodontic consult yet?  Do you have experience with Invisalign?  I’d love to hear more about it in the comments section!

Rafflecopter_WinaSmileEnter to win a new Invisalign Smile in the Rafflecopter below!

 

 

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The Captain’s New Smartwatch for Kids is Fun and Multifunctional!

This smartwatch for kids post was brought to you by VTech.  All opinions are mine.  The VTech product, gift card, information, and additional gift pack have been provided by VTech.

The Captain has wanted a watch for the longest time.  We put it on his birthday list, but he constantly talked about what kind of watch he wanted.  Once he saw the commercials for a smart watch, however, it was all over!  I told him that they didn’t make those for kids, and he wasn’t getting one that was made for adults.  He was ecstatic when I was proven WRONG and we got to review the VTech Kidzoom Smartwatch…..only for KIDS!  And the best part…it was GREEN, his favorite color!

vtech kidzoom smartwatch

The Kidzoom Smartwatch is so much more than just your ordinary watch.  The Captain figured out all of the functions pretty quickly, too!  Here are the features of this smartwatch for kids:

  • 1.4 inch color touch screen
  • camera for photos and videos
  • voice recorder with five voice changing effects
  • special effects including customized photo frames, color filters, and distortion effects
  • four fun games, programmed and ready to go
  • Kid-durable design to withstand drops and bumps
  • Splash proof and sweat proof
  • Alarm clock with fun tones and animation
  • Timer and stopwatch in kid-friendly themes
  • 50+ digital and traditional analog displays
  • Rechargeable battery
  • Four vibrant colors: blue, pink, white and green
  • Micro USB cable for data transfer and battery recharging
  • Access to Learning Lodge app store to download more games and watch displays

watch

The Captain has had this watch for over a month now, and it really has stood up to bumps, drops, and even a few splashes and an almost dunk in the tub.  It’s great for on-the-go games and a fun, easy accessible way to pass the time in the carseat.  The sound is adjustable and not annoying, either, which is great for parents like me who find lots of electronic devices highly annoying if they don’t have a volume control.  Note for parents:  If you are giving this as a gift, make sure to charge it the night before because a smartwatch that doesn’t work and must be charged is no fun.

The Captain’s favorite part of the Kidzoom Smartwatch is the camera.  He took hundreds of pictures and, like a smart phone, it’s easy to delete the pictures or transfer them to the computer.

vtech kidzoom smartwatch

Learn more about the Kidzoom Smartwatch and other VTech products at the VTech Facebook or Twitter pages.   Purchase your own at Amazon or the VTechKids.com.

Now YOU have a chance to win a VTech Kidzoom Smartwatch for a child you love!  Just enter in the Rafflecopter form below.  Good luck!


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Celebrate Milestones in a BIG Way with Hallmark Cards for Kids

I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for Collective Bias and its advertiser. #kidscards #CollectiveBias

Celebrate Milestones in a Big Way! #kidscards #shop #cbias

Back to school is an exciting time of year for everyone. New clothes, shoes, school supplies, classrooms, teachers….it's just all so fun!  I always loved the excitement of back to school when I was a kid and as a kindergarten teacher.  It was a very special time. We have decided to homeschool the Captain this year and I wanted to make him feel extra special and excited about the new year.  I picked up a few things at Walmart including new pencils, supplies and a cute card from the selection of Hallmark poster cards for kids that I knew he would love.  It was unlike a traditional card because it unfolds out into a huge poster!  The cashier was confused with it, and thought for sure it wasn't just ONE card because it was so big!

hallmarkhomeschool

I showed him the card and his new stuff for the new school year and he was thrilled. I know that the card made him feel special and he loved to know I had picked it up just for him!  He went crazy for the "Planes" theme!

celebrating milestones in a big waycelebrating milestones in a big way

The card folded out to a huge poster for the Captain's room!

#cbias #shop #kidscards

Hallmark cards for kids are a wonderful way to show a child you love that they are special. They are great for any occasion – birthdays, good luck, or just that you are thinking of them!

birthday card #shop #kidscards #cbias

You can also earn rewards for the Hallmark cards that you buy at Walmart. For every five cards you buy, you will earn a reward.  Check out the Hallmark Card Rewards Program!  

Make sure you check out Connections from Hallmark and check out great content from other bloggers. Join in the #kidscards conversation on Twitter!  

 

Team Up With A Sponsor to Get the Soccer Uniforms Your Child’s Team Needs at PearUp.com

This post was brought to you by Global Influence and PearUp.com.  All opinions are my very own.

The Captain has played three seasons of soccer, and it has become a big part of our family.  I never played soccer, (except for those awesome soccer days in P.E.!) but Daddy and his family are big soccer people, so we felt like the Captain would enjoy it, too.  At first it was "awww…how cute, little three year olds kicking a ball down the field," but now, it's a big deal!  The Captain loves to learn about soccer, practice soccer in the backyard, watch soccer on TV (for a short period of time – remember, he's five,) and oh how he adores being on a soccer team and playing in games.  Playing soccer has taught him a lot about the need to practice to better himself, listening to a coach and following the rules of a game.  It's taught him about winning and losing, supporting his teammates when he's not on the field, and heading to practice and giving it his all, even when he doesn't really feel like it.  Soccer is a great thing for him.  He's even found that he loves being goalie.

soccer

In order for players to be a team, they do have to have matching uniforms, and sometimes that is difficult to achieve.  Sports uniforms are expensive, after all.  But I've learned about a company called Pear Up that helps teams get a sponsor and work together to get the uniforms that they need.  PearUp.com uses social network actions to help teams raise funds and it's free.  Sponsors have the money to donate and it needs to go to someone…why  not your child's team?  Each group can earn up to $1,000 in a ten day period.  

You can check out the Pear for the Viking Youth Soccer team, who is working towards their goal with Ritz Bits.

You can also start your own Pear for your child's soccer team right now.  It can be for a uniform or team/league fundraiser.   It is easy to earn points doing things you do on a daily basis anyway, and points equal money for your team!  Check it out and check out the "Snack For Your Champion" program by Ritz Bits!  Ritz Bits is offering more than $100,000 to sponsor youth soccer teams across the country by providing team uniforms or a donation for team/league fees.  There is no catch!  Ritz Bits wants to generate goodwill and excitement in the soccer community. 

Ritz Bits

Fine print:

  • Teams cannot be school affiliated.
  • The final award for the group is paid out by Pear to leagues and organizations directly.
  • Award redemption instructions are provided with each Pear Sponsorship certificate (which you'll receive via the site upon completion of your sponsorship) — 10 days or sooner if you choose to wrap up early.
  • Typical turnaround time for issuance of sponsorship awards for this program is one week.
  • Sponsorship award value may be paid via check directly to team or league organizations only, with proper (W-9 or EIN) validation — checks will not be issued to individuals.
  • There is a limit of one sponsorship per group; the program is only valid for groups who have not already completed a Ritz Bits sponsorship on Pear.

WildThings3

Five Ways to Make Learning FUN for Your Preschooler (including Disney Junior Games!)

This Disney Junior games shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CollectiveBias #Ready4Preschool

Make Learning Fun for your Preschooler

The reality has set in.  The Captain is 5 1/2 and getting ready for kindergarten and D is 3 1/2 and getting ready for preschool.  It's still up in the air where he will go to preschool, but he is ready for more formal learning.  Well, as formal as preschool is, you know!  He loves to craft, pretend, play dress up, and practice his letters.  I love to find crafts and activities that are fun and educational for the boys.  

We recently visited Walmart and found a great resource for fun, all-in-one educational activities for getting ready for preschool.  Disney Junior games feature your child's favorite characters and age appropriate manipulatives to encourage learning and fun.  These include a learning easel activity, counting, first words, rhyming, alphabet, numbers, and colors & shapes activities and can be found in the back to school section:

#ReadyForPreschool #shop #cbias

D was so excited to be able to pick out a few activities for his very own!  (Not having stuff handed down to him from older brother is pretty cool, you know.)  I wanted to buy everything they had, but decided on three activities that I knew D would love:  the Rhyming Activity featuring Jake and the Neverland Pirates, First Words Learning Activity featuring Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, the Counting Learning Activity and Alphabet Learning Activity, both featuring Doc McStuffins.

Disney Junior #Ready4Preschool

D's favorite game was the Rhyming card with pictures.  He was pretty good at it, too!  I had to read the first word to him and he quickly found the pictures that rhymed.  I love that these games are all able to meet your child wherever he or she is at.  If they are ready to write the words, there are crayons and wipe off cards included.  If not, matching the cards is great, stress-free practice:

#ReadyforPreschool

D also loved the Doc McStuffins counting activity, where he wrote the number and put the same number of counters on the card:

#ReadyforPreschool

Here are four more awesome activities to help your child practice their numbers and letters without even knowing they are learning!

Preschool Learning Activities

Preschool Learning Activities

  1. Alphabet Balls – Play countless fun games with these DIY ABC balls!
  2. Homemade Number Puzzles – Super easy, fun way to practice number recognition.
  3. Alphabet Worksheet Printables – There are so many ways you can use these free printables!  Practice letter and word writing, draw or cut out pictures that begin with the letter, and more!
  4. Potato Stamp Craft – A new, inexpensive, and different way to create words!

And don't forget to check out the Back to School section at Walmart for fun learning activities, all packaged and ready to go!

#ReadyForPreschool

 

 

 

 

The Reward System That Has Helped Our Kids’ Behavior This Summer!

Around the middle of May, I began to get concerned about the boys' behavior.  I was looking at a summer with all three kids after the Captain ended his year in half day pre-k.  He is 5 1/2 and definitely acting like a 5 year old boy who has been surrounded by other 5 year old boys for months!  Thankfully no bad words have come up, but the potty talk and laughing incessantly at "poop" and other words were common, and he was teaching D, who is 3 1/2, just how hilarious they are.  There was also the disobeying, defiance, and being mean to each other that was driving me crazy.  Something had to be done.

Daddy is gone a lot during the summer because he is a youth minister.  Camps, trips, and other work engagements keep him busy and so I knew I had to do something to stop the negative behavior and get us all working together so we could have a great summer.  I began to think of what I should do…and then I remembered something that works brilliantly with all kids:  rewarding positive behavior.

When I was a teacher, I tried many things – treats, treasure box, encouraging words, and more.  But the one thing that got the best response from my class was when I gave them a sticker for any outstanding positive behaviors.  Soon, the whole class was trying to earn a sticker with their positive behavior that, while the negative behaviors didn't go away completely, they definitely decreased!  I saw this same phenomenon a couple of years ago when the Captain brought home a "Shine God's Light" sticker chart from VBS.  He was supposed to earn stickers by doing positive things for others, like praying for them, giving them something nice, or just doing something thoughtful for another person.  He was so excited about this chart, but for a (then) 3 year old, there were a LOT of spaces to fill.  You can't tell from this picture, but this was about half full:

Shine God's Light!

It took him about two years to fill up this chart, but when he did, we rewarded him with something he wanted:  a new basketball.  He didn't know he was working towards a basketball, but when the chart was full, he happened to want a basketball, so that's what we gave to him for his positive behavior.  I always prefer to get the kids something as a reward, not "just because," so I go that route whenever possible.  $15 for something he wanted, to reward him for two years of doing great things.  Pretty good deal, if you ask me!

So back to our current situation.  We needed to do something!  I was pretty much done with sticker charts, but I remembered that we had some aquarium stones and of course, lots of different sized jars!  I worked with the boys to make up a list of ways they could earn stones and informed them that they would be working TOGETHER to accomplish one goal.  Here are the four ways we came up with to "Shine God's Light" and earn a stone for the jar:

Ways to Shine God's Light

 They had to come up with what they wanted to work towards together, and when the jar was full, they would both get to enjoy the reward.  This has helped with the competitiveness and while it is sometimes hard to agree on something they both want, they really do work together!  The first goal they wanted to work for was to get the "Frozen" DVD.  Once I handed out the first stone, they were on a roll.  Their behavior really changed almost instantaneously.  Now, of course, they're still humans and we all make mistakes.  I just focused on correcting their negative behaviors but really rewarding their positive behaviors.  The boys were telling each other to "please move" and "thank you!"  They were obeying the first time (this one is the hardest and will continue to be the hardest because no one really likes to stop what we are doing and do something someone asks of us.)  It took about three weeks for the boys to fill the jar and when they did, we went out and bought the "Frozen" DVD the same day.  

reward jar

When that goal was met, the boys talked together about what they wanted to do next.  Another movie?  no.  A toy?  no.  They had been asking to do something special as a family, particularly asking to go to iT'Z, which is like a nicer, more pleasant experience than Chuck E. Cheese's and has a rock climbing wall, bowling, and more.  I'm not a huge fan of either place, but hey, if they want to work for a trip to go there, I'll be happy to reward their positive behavior.  So, I told them that the little short jar wouldn't really work because a trip to iT'Z is more expensive than a DVD.  I took a taller jar out of the cabinet and showed them and they agreed that they could work towards filling up that jar and earn the trip they had been wanting.  

(This also is a great way to delay an allowance in our house.  The Captain, especially, gets money and it burns a hole in his pocket.  He will waste it on anything and everything he sees if he doesn't have some guidance.  The stones in the jar have some "value" to them, but they're not monetary.  They can see that the jar for the DVD was shorter than the jar for the trip to iT'Z, so they can grasp the concept that some things cost more than others, but there is no handing out money.  There is no "you do this chore, I pay you $$."  An allowance will come in the future, but for now, this is a great intro to an allowance.  It's a reward for good behavior, not payment for a task.

This was our "Shine God's Light" jar a few days ago:

The positive behavior reward system that really and truly worked for our kids and really made them think and be aware of their actions.

Rewarding positive behaviors definitely takes effort on my part, and it's not fail proof, for sure.  They still act up and are still naughty at times, but their behavior is light years better than it was just two months ago.

Rules for earning a stone:

1.  You can't ask for a stone.  example:  "I cleaned my room, can I get a stone?"

2.  You can't get a stone for yourself.  Our cup of stones sits on top of the fridge so they aren't tempted.  (This is when the noise of a stone in a glass jars comes in handy….Mommy hears all!)

3.  You can suggest that your brother gets a stone if you see him doing something good.

4.  We can't take stones out.  I have been guilty of threatening them with this on bad days, but it's just not a good idea.  They earned them and they shouldn't be taken out.  Discipline and rewards for positive behavior should be two separate things.

5.  Stones aren't used for bribes or making deals.  No "clean your room and I'll give you a stone!"  Nope, it's "Wow!  You cleaned your room the first time I asked without complaining, thank you, you get a stone!"  Likewise, they can't say "Hey Mom, I'll pick up my toys if you give me a stone."  Scheming doesn't work for stones!

6.  All stones are of equal value.  Share a bite of your cookie with your brother?  One stone.  Spend an hour working with Mommy in the garden to keep her company?  One stone.  Get a diaper for Mommy because you knew she needed help, even though she didn't ask?  One stone.  Simple!

Some people will argue with this whole idea and say that kids should do what parents tell them "just because."  I've heard people say that kids should mind their parents all of the time and if they don't, they (get a spanking, get time out, etc.)  I DO believe that negative behaviors need consequences, but I'm telling you….kids aren't born with the ability to obey and need to be taught.  I prefer to teach them in a positive way because it gets better results.  Sure we discipline when needed, but for us, an appropriate mix of the two works really well.

This is a great way to help the kids learn about how others feel.  The boys have both gotten stones for helping other people and not even doing it just to get a stone.  Once they got used to helping others, it becomes more natural.  

If you want to go beyond showing your kids how to "Shine God's Light," and teach your kids about God's love, check out "Simple Ways to Bring Jesus into Your Child's Daily Routine."

 

 

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