I've invested a lot of time and energy in trying to teach my children, in both direct and indirect ways, about consequences, planning ahead, keeping a long-term perspective, etc. Understanding those things is no small feat when you're only 5.
In Dylan's classroom, they have a behavior chart that looks like a giant stoplight--red, orange and green. Each child's name is written on a clothespin, and if they behave all day, they stay in green. If they get a warning, their name is moved to orange, and if they further misbehave, they are moved to red and get a time-out. Dylan has been getting in orange here and there the last few months, mostly for things like talking or wiggling about when he's supposed to be sitting down and listening. Since the beginning of April, I've been telling him that if he makes it a whole week staying in green every day, I'd take him to get ice cream. Thus far, he's always fallen short of the goal.
But this week he's done really well, and as of last night had stayed in green every day--only one day to go. Last night, he wouldn't eat his dinner (he doesn't believe in eating anything besides chicken nuggets, pepperoni pizza [and only pepperoni or cheese is ok], granola bars, and then anything consisting almost entirely or refined, bleached flour--added salt a plus) so I told him that Keilana was the only one who was going to get ice cream (Doug had brought some home on an errand run a night or two earlier). He whined at first that he wanted ice cream, but I insisted he had to eat his dinner or he wasn't getting any. Finally, he resolutely pushed his plate away and said, "No, I'm not eating sloppy jos. I'll have ice cream tomorrow after I stay in green."
I didn't know whether to cheer or slap him.