Thursday, August 16, 2012

Our New System that Works for Us

So chaos has a tendency to visit homes of families especially those with small children learning about the rights and wrongs/dos and don'ts of our society. I can't think of any parent who hasn't yet said, "We had a few moments today" or "we had an awful morning today" at some time or another. We had some tantrums this morning actually, venti sized for those of you who speak Starbucks. 

We began using just a sticker chart when Zachary turned 3 to help minimize the frustrations.  This worked well for Zachary because he could earn stickers for positive behavior in about 3-5 different areas.  After he earned 20 stickers he could get a prize from the prize box.  For some kids it may have needed to be less.  If he broke any rules he lost stickers and again we generally focused on about 3 rules at a time which he needed practice on. 

Now that he's aging though we needed something new.  We needed something that would incorporate his chores, his stretches that he has to do for his leg muscles (b/c this is NOT a favorite activity even if we do stretches with him), and also respect which encompasses quite a bit (pushing, tone of voice, yelling, following directions.  This chart idea comes from my mother who has been an elementary teacher for...I think 30 years. Thanks to her we have this new system that works so well for us.  Here is how it works.

Every morning and every afternoon Zachary can earn 3 baseballs so 6 in total each day.  If he does his chores he gets a sticker or a check on the baseball for his "chores" ball, etc. If he chooses not to do them he gets an X on the ball. By the end of the week he has to have 80% of the balls in order to earn his prize.  As time goes on we can increase it to 85%.  Timeouts can still be used at any time we feel necessary as well as taking away privileges.  I give 1 warning for most things before he loses the ball or gets something take except for hitting/being physical.  That's just automatic loss or timeout. Earning stickers on the ball or a check is usually motivating enough for him thus far. 

Some disagree with earning prizes but I do have to argue that everything we do as humans we do for some type of payoff.  Children do not think abstractly or long term the way we do.  They need concrete payoffs and visual aids to help them remember. The payoffs will change as they get older as they learn to appreciate the little rewards of doing things such as enjoying a clean room (hopefully that's one of them).  My hope is always that parents find something healthy that works for their family.  Love to hear about new ideas.

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