Tourettes and Behavior, Part 2 (Supplements, Part 2)

Supplements, Day 3

* Lots of shuddering, but hardly any chirping. I’m scared to even say anymore about that.

Behavior, Day 3

Much easier day today with a lot less arguing. Even if they forgot a few chores and I added in 5 minutes of extra cleaning later, no complaints. Again, let me fall down dead.

Okay, I’m back up. Here’s my real post below.


As you all know, I’m hardly an expert on behavior. But I can speak for the facts, and those are that my kids really like each other. It’s not because my daughter sucks it up to hang out with my wacky boy, or vice versa. It’s because they truly respect each other as people.

I’ll take a little credit for that (since I can’t take credit for curing T.S.) and go so far as to say that you have to show kids how to treat each other. This often means playing bad cop and not worrying that their self-esteem is going in the toilet because, God forbid, you make them clean the toilet.

I don’t know about you, but I think our culture does such a disservice to our kids. We try to do everything for them. We feel guilty if we can’t. Or we try and over compensate by spending our life savings and credit cards on extra curricular classes and “feel good” artificial experiences when really… really… what they need is to know that they are okay just because they are.

When I began to embrace this idea, I felt less worried about the T.S..

While selfishly I hate the noises it brings, I welcome the invitation it offers me. Every tic seems to chirp, “Andrea, this is one more opportunity to live life on life’s terms. Since you can’t fix the kid, give up the idea that he is supposed to have a perfect life. Let him, not you, earn that confidence.”

So with that, I give you 10 tips for getting your kids to clean up after themselves because, gosh darn it, you shouldn’t have to. (And you’re doing them a service by letting them take responsibility for their actions. I swear. Trust me. Or don’t. I’d love your opinion)

10 ways to get your kids to work

1. Have a family meeting: Let them know you love them to pieces, and because you love them, you’re going to help them be more part of the family

2. Have them come up with ideas of things they can work on: Some ideas you’ll keep: Taking out the trash or clearing the dishes! Others you will ixnay, like: We get to go to Chuck E. Cheese every time we remember to flush! It’s not the ideas you follow up on with the kids that count. It’s listening to them that makes all the difference. (But in the end, it’s a dictatorship. Mom rules. So sorry!)

3. Don’t install more than 3 new things at a time: I heard once that kids can’t take more than 3 changes at a time. I’ve found that to be true. Work on those for 21 days until they become a habit, then move on to the next three. Want to write a list of 100 things that need work? Great. But don’t implement more than 3 at a time or you are headed for frustration.

4. Don’t expect perfection: Tuesday, Stink finished “washing” the back windows. They are more spotty than before he started. But the dirt is off. This will still be easier for me to clean tomorrow. I’ll take it!

5. Stop Feeling Guilty Already! Having our kids work, even if they cry and complain at first, is the best gift we can give them. I find it even more important if they have “special needs” of any kind. If my kid is going to tic his way through 4th grade, he’s also going to do it without food on his face, an organized back pack and a good understanding of when it’s appropriate to tell a joke.

6. Laugh! It can’t all be about work. When it’s done, don’t over compliment them. “Congrats on your mediocrity!” Stay calm, say thanks, and then pull out a board game. It shows that life is about work and play.

7. Stop working at a certain point in the day: It’s so important to enjoy our kids, even if they are bugging us. The less stressed you are – which means you aren’t trying to Ebay while getting them ready for bed (Ahemmmmm) the easier it is to appreciate them.

8. Come up with an allowance: I used to pay 25 cents/day. I’d have the nickels waiting in a family jar in the center with two tin jars on either side for Stink and Pip. When they did their job, I did a fine job of letting the coin clink clink clink in the can. This helped on 2 fronts: They got the instant gratification of money when they did something. When they argued or complained, I made them walk over to their jar, take out a nickel, and put it back in the family jar. If they complained about that, they got to put 2 nickles in.

9. Don’t be such a task master! When we used the jar system, I’d often have the kids take random nickels from the jar and pay themselves. “Just for bringing your dish to the sink without asking!” I’d say. Encouragement is good.

10. Give kids the day off. We try not work on Sundays. No beds need to be made. No major chores. We just put away what we take out.

We have a LONG way to go, but this is what I do to keep my sanity. Would love to hear your thoughts!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to search for cool laundry baskets. Guess what job Stink is getting when he turns 10? I know. He’s so lucky. As pip likes to say, “Stink is going to walk around with a lot of dirty clothes, Mama!” (Smart ass. She’s right, though.)

* Photo taken on Wednesday morning. They got up, made beds, brushed their teeth AND did their hair by 7:30. All on their own. It’s a miracle!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (My big win? If my kid is going to shudder, he’s not going to do it with yukky hair and yellow choppers.)

2 thoughts on “Tourettes and Behavior, Part 2 (Supplements, Part 2)”

  1. 3,4,9…those are MY three things to master. Only 21 days…I feel like I’ve known this for 10 years and I still can’t get it right. Great column!

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