Yesterday was the kiddo’s 3-year well visit and flu shot at the pediatrician’s office, which meant I spent most of my morning fighting anxiety because I anticipated more mega-tantrums. I scheduled the appointment for 3:00 pm–in other words, post-nap, when the likelihood of a tantrum is lower than usual. I made sure my purse had ample snacks for us both. I also ensured he’d recently gone to the bathroom when I picked him up from daycare at 2:30. And I did one other thing I’m a little embarrassed to admit.
I went to Target that afternoon and bought him an $11 toy–a Michaelangelo Ninja Turtle–I could use to “incentivize” (as Miranda from Not Super…Just Mom taught me it’s called) good behavior at the appointment.
On the drive to the appointment, I told Jax he had to go to the doctor for a checkup, and that the doctor would listen to his heart and look in his ears, just like Doc McStuffins does to her stuffed animals! I added that if he didn’t fuss and if he helped the doctor do those things, I would give him a special present I bought for him.
He said, “what it is, mom?” I think it’s adorable that he mixes up his words sometimes. But I digress.
Wait, I’m not done digressing yet! A few weeks ago, I hadn’t even heard of Doc McStuffins, and now my kid is obsessed with that show and the related games on Disney Junior’s website. He’s been using my kitchen utensils as his medical implements, so I think it’s time to buy him a toy set for Christmas. On second thought, that would have made a great
bribe gift yesterday! I am so thankful for Doc McStuffins, because I credit the show with how well Jax handled the appointment. (I also appreciate that Doc’s mother, rather than her father, is a doctor.)
Jax was awesome at the appointment. For the first time ever, he stood on the scale the first time he was asked and with no tears. He let the nurse measure his height and take his temperature without a complete meltdown. He was pleasant to the doctor and let her complete the entire evaluation (which was way more thorough than any of his other well visits, I might add!) without any hesitation.
And then the nurse brought in the flu shot. Uhoh!
Yet even that didn’t evoke the response I had feared it would. He let me hold him–and his arms–while she administered the injection. He cried, of course, but it didn’t last more than 5 to 10 seconds. And when she put a band-aid on him, no freaking out! Amazing! I have the one child on this planet who HATES band-aids, no matter what cute characters are on them. I was nearly as afraid of his potential reaction to that than I was to the flu shot!
Of course after the nurses were done, we practically ran out to the car, where his present awaited him. I told him how happy I was that he didn’t fuss for the doctor or the nurse. I think he was pleased with himself, too.
- It’s not called bribery, it’s called incentivizing–and it freaking works!
- Incentives do not always have to be toys. Miranda reminded me incentives can include doing things, too, like watching a favorite show, having a cookie, or reading a book.
- I underestimated my kid. I’ll try not to do that again.
- Just because he had probably 10 tantrums last week doesn’t automatically mean he’ll have any this week (knocking on wood). Kids aren’t consistent.
Do you use incentives for your kids’ good behavior? How has this worked for you?