Reward System

By: Jessica Aldred

As parents of a school-age child and a preschooler, my husband and I often struggle with how to discipline or reward each of them without impacting the other. For instance, if we’ve promised an outing to a fun family location but my four-year-old has had a particularly bad day, it’s a tough call whether to ruin the fun for all, or for half of us, just to teach my preschooler a lesson. Likewise, how do we reward one for something the other one either can’t or won’t do to earn the reward himself?

Golden stars

My kids are less than two years apart and enjoy a lot of the same things and activities. However, they are developing at such a rapid pace that the expectations we set for each of them have to be different. We’ve recently resorted to a star chart, a sticker chart of sorts. While it does include several items that they are both capable of doing, such as tooth brushing or cleaning up the playroom, there are also some items on there that our younger guy can’t complete, like shoe-tying or finishing homework. We do our best to make up ways for him to achieve similar goals, such as creating homework suited to his developmental level or letting him just put on his shoes instead of tying them. However, he doesn’t have the attention span or understanding of the process to fully grasp the reward end of things. He’s just not old enough, or mature enough, to participate.

As a result, we fight a constant battle with how to reward one for good behavior, while not just rewarding the other to follow suit. Likewise, how do we punish one without impacting the other? They are both so affected by how the other is treated and rewarded/disciplined that it feels like it has to be an all-or-none situation. To complicate the matter, my youngest (with a tentative ADHD diagnosis) is emotionally immature for his age and is easily set off by frustration or not achieving a goal or task right away. So placing him situation that he could easily fail or not achieve the goal only fuels his frustration and can set off a downward spiral of behavior that can last for days at a time. We try to find ways to reinforce unsolicited good behavior with him, but it’s still a challenge.

My four-year-old is actually more excited when his brother achieves a goal than when he does himself. The things that motivate him are also very different. While my six-year-old is more interested in earning money and has the patience to save up for a bigger toy or electronic, my little guy needs the instant gratification to see the process as worthwhile. At the moment, his preference is candy.

I’m interested in to hear how other families handle the reward/discipline system for their children, and specifically for siblings. What are your methods for managing your children’s behavior?

Posted in ADHD, Family, Jessica Aldred, Mommy Advice, Parenting Advice | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

How the Signature Mom Bloggers Celebrate Halloween

Happy Halloween! To celebrate, we asked the Signature Mommy Bloggers how their families will celebrate this spook-tacular holiday.

Martianne - We keep Halloween simple here, having the kids make costumes on their own, using things they have or things we can acquire at little to no expense.  So, this year, Luke will be a Minuteman. Jack will be a knight. Nina will be either a pumpkin (with a borrowed costume) or her version of Molly Pitcher (a historical character). We also celebrate All Saints Day.  The children are still deciding their costumes for that.

Martianne's Kids on Halloween

Martianne’s children in their costumes

Kathy – Patrick will be Batman. John will not dress up since he has autism and often this day makes it very hard for him. Instead, he will help hand out candy (if he can). Since John doesn’t like the feel of many things (for sensory reasons), we celebrated by coloring pumpkins.

Heather - Here is Jameson (6) dressed as Yoda and Jackson (4) dressed as Iron Man. We typically trick-or-treat with the boys’ cousins in their neighborhood and then with their Nana and Papa in their neighborhood. (Our street is much too busy for trick or treating safely.) We try to take advantage of any chance we can for the boys to wear their costumes – Halloween events, dances, etc.  They love dressing up and showing off their outfits.

Heather's son on Halloween

Heather’s son will dressed up as Yoda

Heather's son on Halloween

Heather’s son dressed up as Captain America

Carolyn – Halloween has never been a big deal in our house. During the toddler years, our kids dressed up for pre-school parties but they have rarely ever went out trick-or-treating. With my son, Halloween has always been a night to order pizza and hand out candy. I don’t know why my kids have never liked Halloween – maybe because they are not big candy eaters.

Rachel – My kids are dressing up as Elsa and Olaf!

Rachel's kids on Halloween

Rachel’s “Frozen” kids

Jessica – It’s a Star Wars Halloween! My kids will dress up as Darth Vader, Yoda and R2D2.

Tanya – Lucy (8) will dress up as a corpse ballerina. Jack (5) will be a ninja (after previously wanting to be a scary clown). And Emme (2 ½) will be Princess Anna in her coronation dress. I’m dressing up for trick-or-treating, too! I’ll be going as a scarecrow. The month of October flew by for us, and we didn’t even get any decorations up. I managed to put a sugar skull out near my coffee machine. We had a fall tea party with my Great Aunt Betty, where we ate fall cupcakes and carved pumpkins.

The Pimental Family dressed up as the cast of Scooby Doo

The Pimental Family dressed up as the cast of Scooby Doo

Tanya's daughter at a Halloween Party

Tanya’s family carved pumpkins

How will your family celebrate Halloween? Let us know in the comments section!

Posted in Carolyn Coleman, Halloween, Heather Desmond O'Neill, Holidays, Jessica Aldred, Kathy Trainor, Martianne Stanger, Rachel Ventura, Tanya Pimental | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Teal Pumpkin Project – Providing a Safe Halloween for All

For many kids with food allergies, Halloween can be extra frightening. Finding safe treats to enjoy can be challenging for children– chocolate, eggs, nuts, soy, and wheat are commonly found in Halloween treats – but they’re also common, and in some cases, life-threatening, food allergens.

So what is a child with food allergies to do? Sit out from trick-or-treating? That’s no fun. Many children still dress up, but understand that they will need to give many, or all, of their unsafe treats away.

Teal Pumpkin ProjectThis year, there’s a different option. The Food Allergy Research & Education organization launched the Teal Pumpkin Project to encourage communities to start a new tradition by providing non-food options for trick-or treaters.

Want to participate? Simply paint a pumpkin teal (the color of food allergy awareness) and place it on your porch. You can also print out a sign to indicate that your house has non-food treats available.

Not sure what kind of non-food treats to provide? These items don’t have to be elaborate or expensive. Think glow sticks, bubbles, bouncy balls, noisemakers, or stickers. You could get a pack of typical birthday party goodies from a party store or you could visit the dollar section in a super store.

Taking a few extra minutes to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project will help keep Halloween a fun, positive experience for all.

For more information on the Teal Pumpkin Project, visit

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Searching for Thomas

By: Kathy Trainor

It is 7 p.m., and we are in a rapid rush to get the kids to bed so my husband and I can talk for 10 minutes without toys and other things making noise.

Thomas the tankI walk into the boys’ room and hear Thomas the Train running. Like any good mom, you make your children fish for the running toy, knowing that if you get it you will want to chuck it in the trash. Who wants tears at bed time!

The boys run around the room, look under the bed, and can’t find Thomas. The toy is STILL running. Then Pat-Man, my four-year-old, starts to laugh. He says, “It is under the dresser.”

Ugh. Their little tiny arms can’t reach under there. I am not moving the dresser, since it is VERY heavy. What do I run for? Tongs! I can’t cook, but I know they can grab things from a distance.

I run into the kitchen and run back to the boys’ bedroom. Now, I realize I could have walked. But each minute my boys were up there, laughing and joking, with Thomas still running, caused this mom to look like a nut. I get down on the carpet and army crawled as close as I could to the dresser. I reach my tongs out and grabbed.

I pull out the noisy toy and feverishly look for the off switch. My children are now on their bunk beds, laughing. “Thomas drove under the dresser…HAHAHAHA.” And, “Mommy is lying on the floor…HAHAHAHA.”  All I can think was that I want to throw this toy in the trash.

I switch Thomas off, switch the light off and say, “Good night, boys. No talking. I love you.”

Pat-Man then said, “You love Thomas, too, right Mom?? HAHAHAHAHA”

“NIGHT, BOYS,” and I shut the door.

Thomas is saved, Mommy is tired. I need chocolate!

Posted in Family, Kathy Trainor | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Hockey Mom

By: Tanya Pimental

Baby Jack - Hockey

Before he could say much, my son would yell, “Gooooaaaaalllll!” with true delight.  His love for hockey started at a young age and he quickly deemed Tim Thomas his favorite player.  The goalie inspired his name change from Jack Thomas to Jack Tim Thomas.  We knew skating was in his future and at 18 months, we put him on skates.  I didn’t see myself as a hockey mom.  I was wrong.


After a year of learning to skate and getting used to the ice, we went on to a Preliminary Hockey Development.  He finished it when he was just three.  He had his hockey PHD.  From there we started a skills program to really work on his skating and his hockey technique.  This program has really been great for him.  The Bridgewater Ice Arena is our home away from home.  And I realize, there isn’t any where I’d rather be.

Watching my boy on the ice is bliss.  The cold doesn’t seem to bother me quite as much as others.   My daughters roam freely with their friends and I don’t worry about them like I maybe should.  And when my boy flies by on his skates and beams at me, he’s always flashing me a smile.  And I’m always watching.


My brother played hockey growing up and then living in a small town, I spent lots of weekends at our local rink.  I tried to skate and wasn’t really any good at it.  I sold 50/50 raffle tickets and flirted with the boys.  I guess I was always at home in the rink.  Maybe I was destined to be a Hockey Mom.


He’s just turning six next week and has some amazing skills. His team is still working out the kinks and he’s giving each practice his best.  I love when he gets to mingle with some older kids or run drills with another experienced team.  I’m proud of him.  I’m a hockey mom.

Then I realize that our earliest games have been 8 a.m. and our practices are in the evening.  We haven’t yet had to be at the rink before dawn. What will that be like?  Will I still be excited about being a Hockey Mom?  I sure hope so.  For now, I want him to skate as much as he can and to taste the thrill of a goal often.


Last weekend, he got the chance to play as goalie.  Part of me hoped he would decide the net was not for him.  And yet, despite the play being in front of him the entire game and endless shots on goal, he loved it.  He saved more goals than they got and he can’t wait to do it again.  For me, I want him playing forward and scoring goals. I need him to get that goal to know the high of scoring and not just getting all the action at the net.  Someone recently shared that “goalie’s are born and not made.”  We shall see.

I know I should expose him to other sports and encourage him off the ice more.  Baseball was boring and he hasn’t asked to try other sports yet.  Hockey is where his heart is and it’s where I like to be.  I think it’s safe to say that my almost-six-year-old has a Hockey Mom.  And dare I say, I love it?  The ice, the cold, the speed, the passion of these young kids…it’s awesome and it’s real.  I can’t imagine not being a Hockey Mom to Jack Tim Thomas.

Posted in Activities, Family, Tanya Pimental | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Signature Healthcare’s Asthma “Camp”

Asthma is a lung disease that has very, very serious complications, yet the most effective tool in management is awareness and education.

Unfortunately, this disease is one of the most common long term diseases in childhood, and children with asthma will experience attacks described as wheezing, shortness of breath, incessant coughing, chest tightness, and breathlessness. These attacks occur in flares and the child is usually symptom free in between these attacks. Unfortunately, we still do not know what the exact cause of asthma is, but we know how to recognize and control it. We know that it usually runs in families, so having a family member with asthma, eczema, or allergies makes one more prone to developing this disease. We know that asthmatics have lungs that are more sensitive to certain triggers, and it is this trigger that usually sets off an attack.

Signature Healthcare Asthma Camp

Join us this Saturday at Signature Healthcare’s Asthma “Camp” for a fun Halloween-themed time. Children will move through stations and learn about triggers and controlling their asthma with hands on activities. This event is free for the community and registration is requested. To register, visit or call 508-941-7654.

Posted in Activities, Brockton, Halloween, Health | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Letting Go and Allowing Growth

By: Carolyn Coleman 

Carolyn Coleman“We don’t own children or have the right to live their lives for them. Our task is to prepare them for life.”

I’m finding it hard to decide when to be a parent and when to let go of the parenting thing. While I know there have been years of studies on how to let go and allow your child to grow, those studies are no good to me because I am such a protector when it comes to my son.

I feel we need to let ourselves “off the hook” and give ourselves credit for being good parents. Parenthood is one of the toughest jobs in the world, and we have to realize that our kids are going to make mistakes. I can only prepare my son for dealing with life’s mistakes; I cannot prevent those mistakes from happening. There are so many obstacles that he will need to cross, and as much as I would like to hold his hand as he approaches each obstacle, I know that I cannot.

As my child gets older, I’m finding that I am needed more as a listener instead of always forcing my opinion or thoughts on him. I try to understand that parenting is about connection rather than perfection. It’s important that I share a connection with my child that allows him to feel comfortable talking with me about life’s ups and downs, the good and the bad. I hope he is pleased to know that I am always there for him.

I continually fight the urge to step in and take control; instead I talk to my child and allow him to make his own decisions. I am learning that allowing my child to make his own decisions gives him more ownership over his life.

As I loosen this mother son bond, I know that my son will make some good choices and some bad choices. But as his mother, I will be there to encourage him – no matter what the situation. As hard as it is, we have to know that if we plant good seeds and build a solid foundation, we can let go and watch our kids grow.

How are you letting go?

Posted in Carolyn Coleman, Parenting Advice | Leave a comment