So, Princess has a Reward Chart and it works really well for her (and us!). The basic idea is, do what we specify and your “slide” moves over one place. Naughty behaviour and non-compliance mean the slide moves in the other direction. Easy and it works well. Get to the end of each line and Princess gets a reward, generally to the value of approximately $10.
At the very end of the chart, she will get a larger reward of her choice – initially she had to have a Doc McStuffins Doctor’s Kit. Then is was a Princess Sofia dress (which she got for Christmas anyway) and now it’s a Tinkerbell dress that she MUST have (the pink one that is Tinkerbell’s friend, not the green one that is Tinkerbell *blank look*).
Today, Princess got to the end of her second-to-last line on the chart. It was hard work getting there as she had to not wet her bed, not get up at 10pm and declare she had had her sleep and was up for the day, as well as the usual tasks of putting her bag away after kindy, etc. Therefore, I told her that we would go shopping this afternoon and choose something. I see my mistake right there – I let her choose something. Never, ever let a 4 year old CHOOSE SOMETHING. On an episode of Breaking Bad last night, Gus (the baddie) said to Walt, never make the same mistake twice. I hear ya, Gus. I hear ya.
I took BoyChild along for the ride because he had been promised for awhile now a replacement for his broken and beloved Shaun the Sheep DVD – thank heavens he is a cool, calm and chillaxed little dude. Thank heavens.
We parked up at the local mall, after discussing the parameters of the Reward – $10 value. Excellent, let’s do this.
We go into the first shop, a children’s clothing shop with 70% off. She beelines for a dress identical to the one she is wearing, except pink instead of purple. Looks at it, ponders literally with her finger on her chin. And puts it back. “Nah, not this one, Mum”.
Second shop, another clothing store. Again, she beelines to the dress racks (it’s like she has a sixth sense for party dresses) and immediately pulls out a gorgeous white and purple dress with stars and sparkles. 50% off as well! Only $10! I’m not sure I could be any more enthusiastic! Again, takes it off the rack. Looks it up and down. Screws up her cute little nose and puts it back. “Nah, not this one, Mum”.
Third shop – department store. We skip (well, she skips, I push the pram) up to the Toy section. Straight away we see a cool Disney Princess boogie board. Her eyes light up and, when I see the price ($12!) my eyes light up too! I’m prepared to sway $2 because boogie boards are pretty cool. She actually carries it around for a good five minutes before politely putting it back and saying, “I think I’ll get this when I’m a bit bigger. Maybe when I’m five”. Ohhh-kaaaaay. We get to the Barbie aisle and oh my, it’s Buy One Get One Free. If she chooses a Barbie, I could get BoyChild a Ken for his birthday (he really want’s one. True story). And, they have Barbie and the Pink Shoes dolls. Her favourite movie currently. We look at them, we read the back, we discuss the movie, we compare the dresses. But, alas. “Nah, not this one, Mum”.
Fourth shop – book shop. Glance around the books, find a nice pink notebook. It has no price so I offer to take it up to the counter and ask, but she takes it from me and sets it back down. “Nah, not this one, Mum”.
Fifth shop – The Warehouse. About to lose my mind (I should mention here that I have a bee sting on my ankle so walking is starting to get a touch achy). We go to the book section first. Oh! A Barbie and the Pink Shoes book! It’s $15 but right now, I am caring less and less about price. We read The. Entire. Book. “Nah, not this one, Mum”. DVD section and the silent and patient BoyChild finally gets his Shaun the Sheep DVD. We look at the selection of Barbie DVDs – who knew there were so many? Who, indeed. We discussed the plot of each one, the name of the character Barbie plays in each one. How her hair is a different colour in each one. How good a dancer she is. It was about this point that Princess said, “Mum? Are you even listening to me?” to which I replied, “I’m sorry. But I’m getting bored, my darling”. Barbie DVD? “Nah, not this time, Mum”. Toy section. Every aisle. Twice. Clothing section. A brief argument about a lovely dress that was $39 and well outside of my price tolerance. Jewellery section. Bag section. Back to the Toy Section. Linen section.
So, what did my delightfully indecisive 4-year-old choose, as her Reward? What, I hear you ask, what amazing toy did she select?
A lunch box. A purple lunchbox. With compartments! And a drink bottle!
And, a small pink notepad. Total cost of both? $8.
I just … we just … it’s just … sigh. You think you know someone.
Needless to say, Mum needed a large Pepsi Max for the car ride home. Which, of course, meant the kids got a drink as well.
Lesson learned. Don’t let a 4 year old pick their own Reward. Or, if you do, limit it to ONE shop. And pack a hearty lunch. And wear sturdy shoes cos folks, it’s gonna be a looooooooooong day. I can’t wait until she gets to the Very End of her Reward Chart.
(disclaimer: that last line may have been sarcasm).