Annabel has been…well, let’s just saying being an excellent listener isn’t currently at the top of her skill set. After some less-than-stellar reports from her teachers and coaches, I’ve been struggling to find a good way to motivate her to improve her behavior. I know it’s hard to expect a four-year-old to be a good listener all the time, but I won’t stand for her not listening to her teachers and coaches.

I’ve found for Annie, having something to work towards gets a better response than taking something away. Not that we don’t take away toys and such as consequences for bad behavior, but as far as motivation goes, Annie seems to do better when she has something to look forward to. Yesterday she had dance class, which was coming on the heels of poor listening at gymnastics and soccer, so I knew I’d had to change my tactics. She’d recently been looking at photos on pinterest with me, and she’d flipped over a picture of a woman blowing confetti. “Mommy, I want to do that! I want to make a beautiful picture like that!!”

“Annie, if you are a good listener at dance today  – meaning your teacher doesn’t have to remind you to pay attention and you don’t cause a distraction for anyone else – we can do that confetti picture you saw and you can blow the confetti.”

She loooved that idea. And for the most part, she was a good listener at dance. She gets distracted by her reflection, but so do a lot of the girls, so I gave her a pass. When I told her she’d earned “blowing confetti” she did a happy dance.

I have a ton of pink and red confetti hearts, so I let her grab a few handfuls at a time.

confetti hearts

I stressed to her that the key to taking the picture she wanted was listening. She couldn’t blow on the confetti until I told her to. She was so excited and so anxious…but she was good, and waited.

And then when I said, “GO!” she nailed it.

ready to blow the confetti hearts

She love love loooooves the pictures. She wants to bring one to Show and Tell (so cute), so I printed a few for her to bring to class and to keep in her room. I also plan on using them as motivators – hey Annie, remember how you got to do this fun thing, and all you had to do was listen to the grownups? Hopefully that will help make this non-listening phase (I’m determined to make it just a phase) pass quickly.