Reply by Marguerite:
She sounds like she needs positive motivation and a lot of immediacy. Baby steps, too. Negative reinforcement tends to not work well with difficult children and "The Explosive Child" makes this clear.
For example, when trying to bowel-train difficult child 3 (he was VERY late) we taped a mini box of M & Ms to the toilet wall, nice and high. The box was only his once he did No 2s in the loo. The positive reinforcement helped him get over his fear of the toilet and also encouraged him to keep trying.
You can use the same thing with charts, once they're old enough to cope with the inevitable delayed reward or charts. Thing is, if a bedwetting child has dry pants iin the morning, you can either put a sticker on a chart (which mightn't mean much to a four-year-old) or you can give a small, tangible material reward. Better still, do both. The child can then look at the chart and see the star that corresponds to a treat she has received at the same time. It helps her remember. And if she has the promise of a larger treat when she reaches a certain REALISTIC target, then she should make the connection.
The problems we had were in trying to step down the rewards. We had to eventually stop handing out M & Ms because he finally got the knack. So we talked it over with him and said he could have a box of M&Ms for getting through a week with dry, clean pants.
With really young kids, you need to have most stuff in Basket C and often only one or two things in Basket B. Along with this is the positive motivation to achieve certain targets. Technically these aren't basket issues at all, because non-achjievement = no reward (ie nothing), but achievement results in positive feedback and hopefully connections being made. It sidesteps the basket system. Once a new skill is achieved, THEN maybe it moves into Basket B. "Remember? You did so well last week, see if you can do as well this week too, I'm so proud of my clever girl!" If she falls of the wagon, don't criticise, just hug her and say, "Better luck next time. You can do it with practice, I have faith in you.
"You haven't mentioned her diagnosis in your signature - does she have one? Another suggestion - if she has a series of things to do, such as jobs to do to get ready for pre-school, can you give her a written list? If she's not reading words, put in pictures beside the words. Break up the tasks, so the chart reads, "1. Get out of bed. 2. Get dressed. 3. Put shoes and socks on. 4. Eat breakfast. 5. Clean teeth. 6. Make sure bag is packed and ready." and so on. Put a small square at the end of each task and cover the whole lot in clear contact. A sticker or white-board pen will help her tick off each task as she goes, which helps them feel important and also feel they are achieving things. They love to feel in control.If you are reluctant to let her have her hands on a white board pen, use velcro dots, and a strip of velcro at the bottom can hold a series of "Yippee!" stickers which she can put on each dot to show she's done the job. Her bedroom door is a good place for the chart. This one might work because it is a chart SHE can control.
Another good chart for such kids - a calendar chart with velcro for the different days/months/weather icons. Let her put up the right date with your support.
Charts should work, but some kids need to feel in control in some areas, at least. It's good to let them have control in some areas that don't matter to you, so they will let you control what YOU need to. The best way to handle kids like this is to slowly give them more control over themselves, as they show they can handle it. For example, I have to support difficult child 3 to begin his schoolwork and some days he's really slow to get started. But once he starts, he just keeps on working as long as he's not interrupted. He has learnt to self-motivate at a much younger age than many kids, despite being much more immature and much more dependent. And because he feels in control of what work he chooses to do (out of what has been provided), it makes it easier for him to deal with work he dislikes and subjects that scare him. he knows he must finish ALL Unit 6 work before it can be considered completed. He knows he can bend the rules by doing some Unit 7 work he likes if he knows he's having a bad day and there's still UNit 6 incomplete. However, the undone work now nags at his conscience. I'm not the one nagging.
He's now 12 but emotionally about 5. We began to use "The Explosive Child" on him in earnest only six months ago. Some of the techniques we had independently discovered back when he was three and four. He has NEVER responded well to punishment, but ALWAYS does better with rewards and encouragement. Some people say he's spoilt, but the proof is iin the pudding - we're getting results from a supposedly uneducable, "borderline" kid with major social deficits.
Good luck. You can do it. Keep working on it and picking our brains where necessary.