This week we've been working on closing circles of communication, cooperation, and logical thinking.
Closing circles is actually pretty easy -- when Jack changes the subject abruptly, we remind him what we were talking about, and encourage him to finish one thought before moving on to another.
To foster cooperation we've been unabashedly bribing Jack. I'll offer him a cookie as a reward if he can get himself at the door for school by 1on the dot, or a chocolate chip for picking up train tracks. The idea here is that completing activities and conscientious behavior increase self esteem. Gradually rewards are eased away and good behavior is its own reward. By implementing rewards we've seen his cooperation improve dramatically.
Jack is smart and can use his words to further his agenda -- I'm happy he has a good imagination, but logical thinking is particularly important to communicate with his peers. A few days ago we asked him to put his bike in the garage and he said no -- that there was a magical door and Veruca Salt (or one of his girls; I can't keep them all straight) was parking her bike in the driveway, so he was leaving his there as well. We don't want to tell him his imagination is wrong, but we do need to move him to true expressions and honest opinions. So we try to start with his (illogical) comments and move them toward reality. "You don't want Veruca to lose her bike do you? Why don't you open the magic door and you and Veruca can park together in the garage." (Of course this little bridge between illogical and logical came much later; at the time we just stood there mumbling, magic door... Veruca Salt... what the fudge?) Another response could have been," Jack, do you not want to put your bike away?" This redirecting takes practice and it's clear we'll be working on it for a while!
Jack got a few nice little self-esteem boosts this week. He's been burning up the sidewalks on his new bike: he can ride quite far and so far he absolutely does not complain or whine while riding. When he's tired he asks us to carry the bike until he's ready to ride again. We're loving that! Jack went on a hike with a girl who just started preschool, and although he was nervous, he enjoyed it, and she seemed to like him. And we got a fun surprise at the post office a few days ago. We had to wait for quite a bit, and Jack was very patient. One of the wonderful post office ladies gave him a lollipop to reward his good behaviour and he has not stopped talking about it!