Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Issue of Trust

I was reading a blog of a desperate mom who I won’t single out here, but it appears her daughter got in trouble for taking something that didn’t belong to her. The mother was at the end of her rope as to what to do. I replied and then realized it was an interesting story that should be put up on this blog.

My reply:

I know it sounds corny, but we had the same problem with one of my wife's children. It was a trust issue and the task is to reward only trust worthy behavior.

What I did was I created a "Trust-O-Meter" which was graded from 0 to 100%. We placed it on the fridge. Being that we needed it in the first place meant there was little or no trust to begin with. We set it at 10% to start. Each day the trust would rise by 10% when there were no questionable interactions. With each gain came more reward. At 100% he had everything. Each 10% offered things like staying up later, more TV, going over friends houses, having friends over... Each event of bad behavior lost points depending upon the nature of the deed. It worked pretty well. He could actually track his progress and see the rewards that come with progress, or see the immediate stripping away of the trust he had gained.

Steve Powell, a local child therapist loved the idea when I told him about it and he now suggests it to parents of the kids he sees with trustworthy issues.

All in all, the kid, now in his early 20s turned out pretty well. He appears to have a moral compass that often wasn’t in view as an adolescent.


Blogger Beth said...

We used to hear those wails of, "You don't trust me!" after certain infractions were committed. Our reply - "Well, no we don't right now. You have to earn it back."
A visual tracking system on the fridge would have been a tremendous help.
Great idea.

7:58 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

The consequence consciousness isn’t very well developed in humans until they reach their 20s and then it is most questionable. Consequence is an abstract concept at younger ages, some see it, some don’t. A meter or a scale makes the concept very tangible to children, just as a ringing bell made Pavlov’s dog salivate, children will see and anticipate the rewards of having a high percentage of trust. It’s really pretty cool.

10:16 AM  
Blogger CB said...

We used "three strikes and your out" being that we were a sports minded family. With each strike, more privileges were lost and at the third strike all privileges were revoked and total restriction ensued. Being home schooled that was absolute torture. What we did, too, was gave the strikes to any friends that were also part of the issue. At the third strike the friend was barred from our home for six months. We had no idea how much of a damper that was on poor behavior until recently when one of our children's friends, in total seriousness, asked if their two strikes could be removed. She's in her mid twenties and she said she's been so afraid of getting that third strike. I laughed so hard. JUST DON'T LIE! Oh, but can't you just remove the first two strikes? she replied. LOL!
I like your positive reward system, however. Much more conducive to a postive and wholesome home, I think, rather than negative "rewards".
PS> Check out blogger party change, info at Walluski Babble.

11:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds to me like you are a good Dad, thanks for the tip.

12:47 PM  
Anonymous THartill said...

I think the best way to teach kids not to lie is for parents not to lie themselves....this seems to be very difficult for some of the mothers out there (Ducking Fruit thrown my way....)


How many strikes am I at?

4:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would tell my kids "I trust you until you give me reason no to". So far it seems to work...I think they are afraid of "the chart".

5:58 PM  
Blogger Mom of Three said...

When Eldest was 4, she swiped a Power Puff Girls candy from the local Longs Drugs. She was with Slave Hubby (former Marine drill sargeant Slave Hubby) when she did it (boy, was that doubly stupid on her part), who marched her little peaches right back into the store, had the manager paged, and turned her over. She has NEVER wanted to even lift anything again. We'll do the same for Princess if she lifts anything, and Little Man. You go soft on them at that age and you'll be driving them to their parole officer later in life.

7:16 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Mo3, Fear can be a great motivator, but I've also seen it turn kids into psychos when used too often.

Trish, I still have my mother's voice in my head. She used the same technique, but once things got on her chart they were there for ever. She to this day still reminds me of my errs.

Tryan, tell me more about CB. I understand you've known her for years? Hippie mom or what?

Thanks Anon, but I was a step dad. I'll have a story about that come Father's Day.

5:58 AM  
Blogger Sharon said...

Love the Trust-o-Meter concept. I have no kids, but lots of nieces and nephews. I'll suggest it to the sibs and see if they would like to implement something of the sort.

We have two who are completely out of control in the teenage years currently. Probably too late as they're within graduation range, but it's worth a try.

5:44 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

The only hope for the teens may be boot camp, sorry to say.

8:40 AM  

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