Sunday, February 26, 2012

Don't Mess with the Tooth Fairy

A little-known fact about the Tooth Fairy: She's a witch. Not literally, as far as I know, but definitely figuratively. (But if she were, in fact, a witch, who would be in her coven? Obviously, the Switch Witch, but who else? Mother Nature? Mother Goose? Old Mother Hubbard? Hhhhmmm....)

But seriously, that Tooth Fairy is mean. You know what she did? She visited Bear the other night and left him a note -- but no money. I mean, come on! Who does that? In all fairness, she did leave him $2 when he had to have a tooth pulled in the fall, which was really nice of her given that it was pulled as a result of his refusing to brush his teeth. But I guess she's been paying attention, because despite the fact that he put the first "official" tooth out for her the other night, she didn't take it. Nope, not her. She left him a note congratulating him but explaining that only children who brush their teeth get money. It's not quite as bad as it sounds, because she went on to explain that if he started brushing his teeth like he was supposed to, then next time he lost a tooth (which could be any second) he could leave her both teeth and she'd give him money for the two of them. I have to say, I did warn him that very night that she might not come if he didn't brush his teeth before bed but he still refused, so I guess we should be grateful that she at least turned up.

At first I was concerned that she was being a tad too harsh with him -- after all, he's only six -- but not even a note from the Tooth Fairy herself seems to have changed his mind about brushing his teeth.

Sure hope the Easter Bunny isn't taking lessons from the Tooth Fairy.


  1. Have you tried skill cards? I'm having some success with them, mind you I'm not dealing with ODD so... It might help. I'll send you info on it if you haven't heard of it. (Which I doubt, mind you it was a new thing for me...)

    1. I've never heard of them, but I'm open to ideas. You're right, our problem is the ODD more than the ADHD. He has no problem brushing his teeth when he wants to, but there's nothing I can do when he decides not to do something. Last night I literally pinned him down on the floor to try to brush them myself, and that got me nowhere. When I relented and let him up, he laughed in my face.

    2. I can't find a link to something like it, it's something that was given to me recently as a method to help my girls learn some skills that they need.

      Essentially, this is how it works:

      You choose one skill that you want your child to learn. In my case we had issues with one of the girls taking her medicine, especially on non-school days (weekends or holidays where dad and I sleep in). No matter how often we would tell her to remember to take her medicine early in the morning, we would often find that she hadn't. Not a big deal, but we need her to remember to take it for herself, because we won't be with her when she reaches university... ;)

      This is a reward based system. A simple skill to be done only once a day needs 5 points for the reward. A skill that needs to be repeated in the day (like brushing teeth both morning and night), on the other hand, needs 9 points.

      KEY THING: So that the behaviour becomes the skill learned (and not the expectation of the reward), you only ever work ONE skill for no more than 2 weeks. At the end of 2 weeks, you switch skill, and stop rewarding for the first skill.

      I've tweaked this slightly. I do for 3 weeks, but for the third week, she needs to have double the points (10 or 18) before she gets her reward. This means she has to have perfect 3's for 4 days in a row to get the reward quickly (or 2's for 5 days). Once she receives a reward, she zeros out her points account - with one small exception, we keep track of perfect score. If at the end of 3 weeks, she has received a perfect 3 21 times, she will be receive a brand new book (which was a reward she wanted for her daily success...). Mind you, this particular skill that we are working is something that she could easily do on her own and I can easily expect that her success rate will be bang on. If I thought she couldn't get perfect scores every day for 3 weeks, I wouldn't talk about the perfect score reward.

      I wrote it all out on a card. This is roughly what it looks like:

      Skill Card for: E.
      Skill: Take medication daily at appropriate time without a reminder from the family.
      Where: At home
      When: 7:30 am (or at wake-up if it's after 7:30)
      What is expected:

      1. Between 7:20 and 7:40 go to medicine cabinet and find your medicine.
      2. Take 1 pill from the bubble pack. (I have the pharmacy bubble pack her medicine. Easy to track and control.)
      3. Put bubble pack back in medicine cabinet.
      4. With pill in hand, go to washroom and get glass of water.
      5. Take medication.

      Points: No reminder - 3 points; Reminder after 7:45 - 2 points; Reminder at 8:00 - 1 point; Miss the dose completely - 0 points. Points return to zero after reward day.

      Reward: For 5 points - Mr. Noodles for school lunch.
      For 21 days of perfect scores - A brand new book.

    3. Why did I extend the system to 3 weeks? It has been scientifically proven that it takes 21 days to develop a habit. I need this particular skill to be a habit, so I tweaked the method to extend it to 21 days, but the 3rd week isn't so much about the reward at that point as much as it is about securing the habit.

      She knows that after 3 weeks there will be no more rewards, but what she doesn't know is that after 3 weeks it should be automatic, she'll just go get her medicine without thinking about it. ;) (Sneaky momma, I know, but hey! You've got to develop those habits somehow... lol)

      ANOTHER KEY COMPONENT: Monitoring. Every day, I sit down with E. and I ask her if she has taken her medicine. Yep. Did she have a reminder? Nope (I've already checked with the others if they reminded her somehow... remember that we're 6, so in the rush of the morning someone else could give her a reminder without my knowing about it...). She gets a 3. In front of her, I mark her score on the back of the card and sign off on it.

      There are important factors to keep in mind:

      1. The skill being taught needs to be age and skill level appropriate. (E. is 10 years old, and requires that she recognize her own medicine - something she has proven by bringing her medicine to me so that I could administer it to her for the last 6 months or so.)
      2. If there are a lot of zeros, consider what could be the problem. Is there a pre-required skill missing? Is someone stopping him (is stitch getting in the way)? Is something he needs to complete his task out of reach? (Can he reach the bar to hang up his coat or does he need a small stool?) You get the idea. Re-evaluate after 3-4 bad days of zeros. Maybe it's something that needs to be shelved for now and come back to it later when other skills are acquired.
      3. The idea is to help the child learn necessary "START Behaviours", so try to word skills in a positive fashion. (Ex: Don't say: Do dishes with your sister without fighting. Instead say: Do dishes cooperatively with your sister.)
      4. Discuss this with your child. Let them have an input on the reward. Let them know the expectations. It's a "contract" between you and your child.
      5. This is the most important part: When evaluating the skill, FORGET EVERYTHING ELSE THAT HAPPENED in the day! In my case, if E. took her medicine perfectly, but she was an insolent wild cat the rest of the day and she pushed every button there was to push, she still gets her 3 at the end of the day, because she took her medicine at the time required without the reminder from her older sisters, her step-dad or myself.

      I don't know how you could adjust this for ODD, because from what I understand they don't respond to rewards so much. Maybe you could do this, but only addressing those issues particularly affected by the ADHD? Or recognizing the ODD preventing the success. (So day 1 great day and gets a 2, day 2 ODD based refusal no score, day 3 perfect results gets a 3... Maybe if he recognizes when his ODD gets in his own way it might help? I don't know...)

      All I can say is that we are having a lot of success with this currently (10 perfect days! Yay E.!). I hope you can find something in here that might help you.

    4. Johanne, I love the idea, and maybe it's something we can try when he's older and hopefully a little less ODD. The school has tried many, many rewards-based systems and none have worked. Right now they're trying a rewards-based system where he can actually get a reward at the end of each day (going for the instant-gratification thing), and even that isn't working. Bear knows what he needs to do, he just won't do it. Plain and simple. No punishment or reward can make him do what he doesn't want to do. It's the damn ODD.

      I'm glad you've found something that is working with your daughter. It's so nice to hear happy stories!

  2. I actually think that is pretty brilliant.
    Not harsh at all.
    Sometimes we moms have to use tactics to get them to do things. Whatever works right?

    1. Except that it doesn't seem to have worked at all. Maybe next time I'll try poopy-teeth Shrek. ;-)

  3. In doing some research for Celiac's disease, I'm finding out that there scientists are finding a link between Celiac's and ADHD (possibly even ODD). I know that you have highlighted some foods as a no-no for Bear, have you considered getting him tested for Celiac's? It means a blood test and biopsy of the small intestine (via scope down throat). Gluten hides in a lot of things... Think BROW (Barley, Rye, Oats (non gf), Wheat). It's not easy. To be tested for Celiac he needs to be eating gluten for at least 3 months. Once the tests are completed, try to go gluten free for a few weeks. See if there is a difference in his health and behaviour. If he's acting out because he doesn't feel well in his own skin...

    We're going down this route because of something else that happened in our family, but you can rest assured that we will be getting everybody with ADHD checked out that's for sure! What I can say is this: We did NOT have ANY of the typical Celiac symptoms. Once we went gluten-free though, a whole series of issues that we did not even suspect were issues cleared up.

    With me in particular, I've always been cold. I've always worn jeans even in the heat of summer. Never even thought to mention it to the doctor because it was normal for me. It had been that way since forever. Even my mom, who is a nurse, never thought anything of it. When I went gluten-free, my "unknown symptoms" cleared up within a matter of days. I wasn't gf long enough to see if there were ADHD management benefits, but I'm looking forward to finding out! I need to be eating gluten for the time being, and boy oh boy! Am I paying for it! I'm looking forward to being gf again. I can let you know what I find for myself after a few months of being gf if you'd like... Mind you then it is anecdotal. I did find some medical research reports (among others, one from Italy, small sample, but high correlation, more research needed...)

    1. Actually, gluten is THE major no-no for Bear. We had him tested for food sensitivities a few years back, and he tested highly sensitive to gluten, eggs, soy, sunflower, and casein. He has been off of all of those things since the summer of 2010. My sister is borderline Celiac, so the complexities of eating gluten free are well known to us. Check out the web site for the PEI Celiac Society (or something such) as they keep a fabulous list of brandname products. It's great for things like sauces and spices.

      Out of all the things Bear is sensitive to, gluten wasn't the worst. What's interesting though, is that gluten brings about the worst reaction. If Bear eats a regular granola bar (as opposed to the ones I make him with gf oats), he turns so aggressive that he ends up getting suspended from school. The change in him is unbelievable.

      I wish you luck with the gluten thing! I've gone semi-gf myself because I find I can think better when I don't eat gluten. I used to search for words when I was talking, and now I don't -- unless I've eaten quite a bit of gluten, like a sandwich or something.

      By the way, the best gf bread is a mix put out by The Gluten Free Pantry. It's their pizza dough and French Bread mix, and it is divine. Most gf bread is disgusting, but we devour this stuff, especially right out of the oven. No need to toast it for the first few days, until it starts to get stale.