Good list. Bad list.

This is when they are at their best
This is when they are at their best
H-Now we all have 4 good marks.
Me-I only have one good mark.
H-Well give yourself 3, you’ve been a good Daddy.
Me-Thanks Huds, you’re the best.
H-Thank you for being  a good boy.


Going into the holiday season, it’s every parents’ right to use the potential for gifts as a source of motivation for good behavior from their kids. Whether it’s elf on a shelf, a naughty list or simply saying…”You’d better watch out, Santa is watching and he knows when you’ve been bad or good,” the holidays bring out a certain manipulative period for parents that for seems like only a brief moment, gives them total control of their kids.

I remember hearing it a lot when I was a kid. I knew that the few months building up to Christmas were the most vital to ensure that I got the best gifts possible. I thought that if I was really well behaved after Thanksgiving, that somehow all of my previous indiscretions in behavior for the previous 11 months of the year would somehow be overlooked and that ultimately I wouldn’t get coal in my stocking. For the most part, my theory proved to be correct. I never once got coal in my stocking. Although, I more than deserved it, many times. Thanks Santa!

Well it goes without saying, that recently Tracey and I both started Good/Bad lists at our places and the results are mixed. The second I put the board up, it turned into Good Behavior Kryptonite. It was as if they were powerless against the bad side of the chart and just had to have a mark up there next to their name. By the end of the first night it was 2-1, bad marks to good marks.

While it did seem to be working for Tracey, I wasn’t quite feeling it for some reason. It reminded me of the time we were having issues with Hudson at Preschool and every morning I would tell her that if she was bad at school that day, then she’d be spending the rest of the night in her room when we got home. Without fail, every day I’d show up and she’d be crying her eyes out cause she was absolutely horrible that day and knew she was in trouble. For some reason, it seemed like the pressure I put on her to perform or behave well always ended with disastrous results, so I had to try something new.

From that point on, I used positive reinforcement to encourage her to be good at school (and Elle too)…and what do you know…it worked. They were actually good. Not that it cured them of bad behavior, but it was getting results.

Flash forward to our Good/Bad list and the same thing seemed to be happening. So, I took the list and ripped it half, leaving just the “Good” half. From that point on we were just going to keep track of the good and not focus on the bad. At the end of the day it was much easier to get a bad mark than a good one, and focusing on the bad stuff never seemed to do any good anyways. Well, besides inspire more bad behavior, and that’s not what the list is really about.

It’s about the holidays, fun…and being nice to one and all.


One thought on “Good list. Bad list.

  1. I always feel guilty about the fact that my natural instinct is to go negative with my (high energy, hot tempered) son – even though it’s the positive reinforcement that almost without fail gets the results. I guess it’s because it’s just so much different than the way I saw grown-ups do it when I was a kid. Around the holidays I try to keep away from the negative reinforcement as much as I can though because my son WILL test it lol, and ultimately, I don’t want his only memories of the holiday season being mom and dad threatening him for a month and a half. 🙂

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