Trying to get my 11 year old son, E, to perform his daily ablutions is about as much fun as pulling out my own teeth. He refuses to shower, hates brushing his teeth, hates getting up in the morning but avoids going to bed at night. Left to his own devices, he would watch “screens” (our term for all things electronic such as TV, computer, Game Boy, video games) all day every day. Don’t get me started on the homework battles. It’s usually a blood bath before the homework is finished!
E has severe sensory integration dysfunction; an inability of his brain to process sensory messages in a meaningful way. He is a sensory seeker which means he is alway trying to satisfy his sensory system’s need for input. So, every day is a struggle to get him to do what he needs to do UNLESS you constantly reward him. There are 2 types of kids; those that have internal resources and do what is needed without prompting and those that need constant external intervention for motivation. My kid falls into the latter group and after 11 years of having to come up with new and exciting motivators, it makes me exhausted just writing about it. He loses interest very quickly with every reward system we have every tried.
My husband bought E a cap gun for Christmas but forgot to give it to him. A couple of nights ago, E had the hiccups at bedtime and my husband remembered the cap gun. Scare E with the cap gun. Bang! Bang! Hiccups gone. And it worked a treat. E loves to make noise, so he loves that little, plastic gun more than life itself.
Several years ago, I bought a roll of 2,000 raffle tickets. Every time we asked E to do what most kids will do without prompting and he does it, he gets a ticket. When he collects 20 tickets, he redeems them for a roll of caps for his gun. We have used the ticket system dozens of times in the past but hadn’t tried it recently. E has been very uncooperative lately so I decided to give it a go. He was so excited at the prospect of earning tickets for caps and was very cooperative. So far, so good for the past 48 hours. I’ll take whatever I can get. Who knows how long it will last!