As weeks and months went by, my expectations of myself were being destroyed. How I wanted to have a peaceful home! But instead, I felt overwhelmed by the amount of chores that were waiting for me every day. I felt like I was nagging the kids ALL.THE.TIME to get up, brush teeth, get dressed, brush hair, clean your room blah blah blah. The whining, the crying, me raising my voice to get them to listen, you get the picture. Just not a happy home that I had envisioned.
Since I also homeschool the kids, I felt that the only positive time I had with them was the time where Jake was asleep and I was "doing school" with them. I noticed that because I wasn't having positive time with my kids, their behavior was suffering. I wanted to be the cool mom who sat down with them and met them eye to eye. Playing games with them. Smiling more with them. But I wasn't. When they asked to play with me I would say, "not now honey, I have to go clean." It broke my heart.
Finally I had had enough. I have a friend who has used Accountable Kids for a few years now and so I called her up. I spoke with her about the program and also heard some positive things about others that have used the program. My main selling point was that they have stuck with it year after year! It was not a fad and it really worked.
I poured over the website http://www.accountablekids.com/ and read testimonial after testimonial.
And then I read the summary:
Accountable Kids is a unique parenting program designed to teach accountability and responsibility in the home. It is a back-to-basics system which includes essential parenting principles and concrete stepping stones that strengthen relationships and build a foundation for success; an ideal program for ADHD natural treatment therapy. Children learn to balance choices and consequences in a fun, productive manner. They experience the joy of being a vital, contributing member of the family and develop confidence and self-worth. The Accountable Kids program includes a book, Quick Start DVD, Progress Board, 50 Reminder Cards, 3 blank Reminder Cards, 10 Tickets, 10 Bonus Bucks, 3 Special Date Cards, 4 Best Behavior Cards, and 2 Privilege Passes, and 2 sticker sheets. The Accountable Kids program provides everything parents need to maximize efforts and bring structure and harmony into the home.
The bold writing were the words that spoke to me the loudest! How I needed structure and harmony in my home! I was tired of reminding my kids to do simple tasks. I was tired of the messes that I had to clean up. Basically I was just tired! So one late night, I ordered it.
When the UPS man delivered our box, I was thrilled! It had everything I needed to get started with the program. I had ordered the Basic start up kit for two children which included the Accountable Kids book, Quick-Start Video, a natural wood Progress Board, 60 Reminder Cards, 3 blank Reminder Cards, 10 Tickets, 10 Bonus Bucks, 4 Best Behavior Cards, 2 Privilege Passes, 3 Special Date Cards, and 2 sticker sheets. The kids hovered around as I opened it up and of course, they wanted to start right away. I told them I would have to read the book first and then we would start. Still they pleaded so I satisfied them by watching the video.
The video gave a great rundown of the steps of the program. One great thing of AK is that you don't have to implement it all at once. Whew! We can all get accustomed to it one step at a time. Then when we have a good feeling for the step we are on, we can move to the next and implement that. Because of the video, the kids were chomping at the bit to start with the first thing - the decorating of the boards.
They picked out their own colors and designs and started at it. Now if you don't want to get all crafty, there are a lot of other options like stickers and such. Then we hung them up on the wall thanks to my handy husband!
After I poured over the First Step, I felt confident enough to start the program. Step 1 consists of the Reminder Cards that help the child go through their day routine of chores. This has been a great help to me as I don't need to constantly remind them to do their basic tasks. They get up and begin their day by brushing their teeth, getting dressed, eating breakfast, making their bed and cleaning their room. After they have completed their morning chores they get a ticket which can be traded for a privilege. Their favorite right now is 30 minutes of media time. We have also used them to play board games, painting, outside time and playing with friends. Then later on in the day they have their afternoon chores and their evening chores which then they can earn two more tickets. No tickets = no privileges so they have to figure out a way to entertain themselves and it motivates them to finish their set of chores for privileges. They are also able to earn a Best Behavior Card if they exhibit a positive behavior trait like sharing, being kind to others etc. This isn't to be used all of the time but in very special occasions. They can use that card like a ticket. I was able to see an immediate change in our kids as soon as Step 1 was started! They were happily going about their day and I wasn't exhausted from telling them what to do all day! It was working like a charm and instantly calm came over our home. Seriously.
Step 2 by far has been all of our favorite. If the kids earn all of their tickets for the day, they earn a star on the Special Date Card. Once the card fills up, a date is scheduled for the child and the parent. I don't know about your family, but one on one time is pretty rare. This has made it so easy to carve out special time for all of us and we can tell the kids have felt more secure in our relationships after dates. So far we have gone out to a special dinner, bowling, ice skating and a movie. We rotate which parent goes with which child and it has been a blast for all.
Oh, and do you see that Privilege Pass? That is the magic card! I can target one behavior to extinguish it. Like Kylie getting up in the middle of the night? Gone. She earns the Privilege Pass if she doesn't get up. Luke's behavior is sitting at the dinner table until excused. No more getting up and wandering around for him! YAY!
Before you say, well I have an incredibly strong willed child and it won't work. I will reply well yeah, so do I! I remember reading a statement in the book saying sometimes behaviors can get worse before they get better and they were right. Kylie blew a gasket about week 2. She flat out refused to do the program and totally shut down. But I stuck to it and if she didn't earn a ticket, then she wasn't getting a privilege, period. It was ugly but it was necessary! After many a tear and a lot of yelling about the woes of Accountable Kids, the light bulb went on for her and for 2 weeks straight, I have had a totally different girl. She is back to being agreeable and productive. Actually, she is a lot more sure of herself and pleasant to be around.
Overall, this program is really simple to stick to and use. On a rating of 1-5, 5 being the highest, we give it a 6! The book gives step by step instructions about how to deal with every situation and helps you with parenting certain behaviors. There are two other phases with extra chores for other rewards and the starting of a Family Forum. It has been fun to implement and not overwhelming at all since it goes in steps instead of all at once. The book tells you exactly what to do and when and as you continue, it is not labor intensive for me at all.
Let me know if you have any questions! We all love talking about Accountable Kids!