What about rewards for good behavior?
So far this [rewarding good behavior with tokens and punishing bad behavior by taking them away] seems to be working. Anyone see any way to improve upon this?
I think rewards can help someone achieve something they want.
If he wants to change his behavior and he wants some outside help to remind him to keep himself focused on his goal, then rewards can be helpful. As long as it's him rewarding himself and you're just acting as his agent.
But if it's your idea that he act differently, then you're basically training him to jump through a hoop that has no meaning for him. The goal should be doing things because they're right, not because someone is watching us.
What if your husband wanted dinner on the table at 6 sharp? And what if he gave you tokens when you did it right and took away tokens when you failed? What would that do to your relationship with him?
That scenario is basically saying that your reasons for not being able to get dinner ready at 6 are irrelevant. All that's important is whether or not his needs get met or you do as he says.
What if it was important to him to eat at 6 -- say he was taking a night course that met at 7 -- and he asked "What can I do?"
Which husband would you rather help out?
He knows that if I have to ask more than twice to have him stop or start doing something he automatically loses 3 tokens per occurrence.
I think it helps to focus on why kids want (or don't want) something rather than on what they're doing. If a child doesn't want to put on his coat and go somewhere, then translate that into terms you understand. What if you were in the middle of a great movie on tape and your husband wanted you to put on your coat right now and go to the bar so he could watch the game on the big screen and drink beer? Lots of times life looks exactly like that to kids.
What if a video game that your son had been waiting for for 6 months had just come out? What if he wanted you to get on your coat and drive him there right away? Wouldn't you think that was rude and outrageous? And yet we do that exact same thing to kids all the time! We have it in mind that what we want is very important and they need to put up with it so we can get it done. But it feels like the first rude and outrageous scenario to them. And we do it to them over and over and over. Not only that but we get upset when they get upset over being treated that way!
If we step back and see our kids as fellow humans who are living lives that are just as important to them as our lives are to us, then it helps us not to treat them as though they make our "have tos" harder and more inconvenient than they already are.
He could be so sweetly enjoying a movie with his sister or playing with her and the second I tell him how nice it is to see or how proud I am of him, he does a 180 and from that point on does the complete opposite.
Because he's feeling observed and judged and you're pointing out that he's finally doing what you want him to do. That's just a different type of reward. It's a pat on the head for being a "good" boy.
He should be peaceful with his sister because he wants to and enjoys the feeling, not because you want him to or because you enjoy what looks peaceful on the surface.
In fact, there have been several days where I have totally forgot about the tokens and both of us forget and he is still wonderful.
He's also getting older.
All the tokens do is work on the external. Behavior is caused by something going on inside. If we stop the outside by making someone act as though the inner turmoil wasn't there, we haven't removed the turmoil or helped them gain skills to deal with the turmoil. All we've done is force them to paint over it with the actions we want to see.