Houston we have a problem. Oatmeal, which has been the only deterrent is losing effectiveness. He now just stalls until there’s no longer a point. The only thing we would have left to do is adjust it so that if he doesn’t finish in a predetermined amount of time then it gets pushed of to the next meal. The problem with that is he will choose not to eat. It will then become a power struggle.
Before anyone says that rewards work better then consequences be aware the rewards or incentives DO NOT work. Gavin exploits the situation and then we have to stop. For example if we reward him for getting his meltdown under control then he will begin having the meltdowns just to be rewarded for stopping. So consequences it is then.
I feel torn because part of me wants to push the oatmeal and win the power struggle. We will provide him with a healthy (oatmeal) and he can make the choice to eat it on not. He will only have oatmeal as an option until he actually eats it. We only give him a small bowl so it’s reasonable.
On the other hand he could take it pretty far. How far are we willing to take it? The other issue is if he doesn’t eat the oatmeal (thus skipping the meal) will that encourage him to consume non-edibles? We already struggle with that.
If we decide to pick this battle we would have to see it through. He would need to understand with no uncertainty that we mean business and that we will not back down.
I wish just one thing with him would be just difficult and not impossible.
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What if you were to keep the oatmeal as a punishment and add something new to it? Like taking away a favorite toy, for example. Make sure he knows that if he doesn't accept the first punishment you'll not only NOT back down from it but will make it worse.
Maybe you could also try the reward system we use. Instead of rewarding him for getting a behavior under control, reward him for preventing those behaviors in the first place. Let him know in the morning that if he does well all day he'll earn whatever reward that night. Then remind him of it if he starts to act up. If he continues to act up then let him know he lost the reward for the day and will have to do well the rest of the day and the next day to earn it back. That way there isn't anything (like a meltdown) he can use to manipulate earning the reward. This works well for Cadence.
Great idea. We just need to figure out the add-on. I also like the idea about the "reward" option. We have tried something similar in the past but I like your idea. We are going to have to re-visit that idea. Thanks for the ideas. They might be what we are looking for.