Most people who read my blog probably know that our older son has mild autism. He is mainstreamed in school and after a really rough kindergarten year, so far 1st grade has been wonderful! He is doing really, really well in the school's new Spanish Immersion program. Everyday a folder gets sent home, and in it is Ethan's behavior chart. They can earn green, yellow, or red for the day. Well, on the third week of school or so, Ethan started bringing home a few yellows. I really did not want to see this behavior become a habit, so I started trying to think of incentives for him to get green everyday. I decided that for every five consecutive days of greens, he would earn some kind of reward. We hardly ever eat at restaurants or fast food joints, so for the first one I told him we would go to McDonald's after school to get an ice cream cone and play in the play area. That got him VERY motivated to be on his best behavior in school. Something like that is a real treat for my kiddos. It took some yellows before he worked the kinks out, and I don't think I'll ever forget the proud look on his face when he got in the car and he had his 5th green to show me :)
Since then we've gone to McDonald's two more times, and his behavior has really stayed consistently good. I'm so proud of him! For this month, though, I don't have money for McDonald's. I also didn't want that treat to become so common that he didn't appreciate it anymore. I thought and thought about something free that might be as motivational as our trips to McDonald's. And then I remembered this park that Ethan loves. We go to parks a lot (free!), but this one is farther from our house and I don't like its set-up very much (harder to keep track of both of them), but Ethan LOVES it. With autism, kids can have some strange obsessions, and one of Ethan's is apartment buildings and homes with more than one story. This park has a play structure that is three stories tall, and he's always said it's like an apartment. So he was more than happy for a trip to that park to be his reward.
We went yesterday after school and had a nice time. He got to play apartment to his heart's content. So one more problem solved without money!