The Man In the Ugly Sweater Gave Me Some Great Advice

As a child, one of my favorite television shows was The Cosby Show. I’ve caught a couple of reruns in the past years but the majority of my watching happened 25 years ago.

Miraculously, the stories and plot lines of this sitcom have planted themselves in my subconscious.

I first realized this last winter when my son was sick with the flu and running a fever. He asked what was going on with his body. Without a second thought I began to spin a tale about “germs having a party in his body.” I told him the germs were in his tummy having a grand old time dancing and carrying on. The only way to rid him of the germs was to drink lots of fluids and basically rain on their parade. I also told him that the fever was heating things up inside of his body and causing the germs to sweat and want to find another place to have their party.

As these words were coming out of my mouth I realized I had learned this from The Cosby Show. Clifford Huxtible had spun this same tale for Rudy when she was stuck in bed with the flu. I was in shock that I had remembered this and I was grateful to Bill Cosby for giving me this wisdom.

Flash forward to this past summer. I am pretty strict on bedtimes at our house. Even in summer I put the kids to bed at their normal bedtime. The kids are pretty good with this but one particular night they questioned why they had to go to bed and why the parents got to stay up late.

Out of my mouth came, “Tomorrow YOU can be the parents. You decide what you eat, what you do and when you go to bed.”

I had no idea where this came from. My husband’s eyes got HUGE and he look horrified by this statement I had just blurted out. I was stunned I had said it too.

It suddenly dawned on me. The Cosby Show! Dr. Huxtible let Rudy stay up late one night watching late night talk shows and old cowboy movies after she complained about an early bedtime. Once again, my subconscious came alive and I was reliving my favorite childhood show.

The next morning at the beginning of our “experiment” the kids told me what they wanted for breakfast. I made it and they ate it. They then asked me if they could eat some of their candy they had received at a parade. This would never be allowed on a normal day but today THEY were the parents so I told them they could. Their mouths dropped open at this exciting prospect!

The rest of the day they had fun with the lack of rules and regulations placed on them and took full advantage of their new freedom.

When night fell upon us, my husband and I said good-night to the kids and told them to have fun. The looks on their faces read of utter disbelief that we had made good on our promise and that they were allowed to stay up as late as they wanted and watch tv.

The next day was absolutely horrendous!

I have never seen my children so grumpy and irritable. I’m sure they both had tummy aches after a day of consuming too much candy. I’m sure they were both so tired they couldn’t even see straight.

I never said a word and we somehow managed to make it through the day. Both kids ate healthy and were in bed at their normal time.

Flash forward 3 months later to present day. Neither kid has asked to eat obscene amounts of candy nor has either kid asked why they have to go to bed early.

Thank you Bill Cosby for lodging yourself in my subconscious and giving me some great parenting wisdom!

Iris and Bency eating candy after breakfast

The Recognition Jar

I view motherhood as the ultimate science experiment. My “test subjects” change in the course of months, days and sometimes hours. I find the birth order and gender play a huge role and I find it extremely interesting seeing it all play out.

Behavior problems and discipline go hand in hand with raising kids. I’ve had my fair share of “banging my head against the wall” moments when I just don’t know what to do. I have brought these “special” moments to my pediatrician and she always handed me a book or the name of an author I have to read. I’ve read and I’ve read and I’ve read. Sometimes their suggestions work with one child but not the other. Every kid is different. The mother knows the child best. My suggestion is arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible and go with your gut instinct. If one thing doesn’t work, try another.

We’ve had success with something in our house this past year so I thought I would share it with you! It’s called the “Recognition Jar.” My husband and I got the idea when my daughter’s school implemented something similar. At school, if the teachers found a student doing something positive they received a “Red Bird Recognition.” At the end of the week, all of the recognitions were put in a box and a few were randomly picked to receive a prize or lunch on the stage with a friend.

At home we put this simple “science experiment” into motion by getting an empty jar and my canister of buttons. The premise was… for every “good” behavior they had they got to put a button in the jar. When the jar was full we would do something fun as a family.

My five year old no longer screamed when he got his hair washed after being promised a button if he remained calm. (We no longer have to give buttons for this…it was just a bad habit we had to break.)

Both kids received buttons for making their beds and clearing dishes. (We no longer give buttons for this…they automatically do these now without reward.)

Right now we are currently working on eating over their dinner plate so they don’t get any food on the floor…sometimes they get a button…sometimes they don’t!

This system worked in so many areas where “time outs” and nagging didn’t.

The jar typically takes us 2 months to fill up and their rewards are things like McDonald’s Play Land, trip to the Dollar Store to pick out one item, or a night out for ice cream (obviously, you need to pick what will motivate YOUR child).

Now if only I can get my husband on board with the “Recognition Jar.” There’s a few behaviors I would like to turn around with him…putting the twisty ties back on the bread bags and turning his socks right side out before putting them in the laundry basket. I have a feeling his motivation will take more than a trip to McDonald’s Play Land!


Our Recognition Jar