I am sure that you have heard about behavior/chore/reward charts but I wanted to give you a few tips on how to make them successful.
1. Be consistent - with all of it- the Rules, Consequences, and Rewards.
It can be difficult to stick to it but your child will be better for it in the long run. Make it a part of your daily schedule to check off accomplishments and discuss the day- why they did or did not receive a sticker (or other indicator) that day. It is important for your child to know what to expect and how to earn rewards.
- For behaviors, if they mess up one time is that it for the day? Or do they have opportunities to make up for it (less than 3 redirections they still get a star or one redirection they lost the day completely)
- Are stars gained by doing positive things or not doing negative things?
- Are chores and behaviors listed on the same chart?
- What determines when the reward is given - number of days with certain number of stars or just the number of stars in general?
It sounds like a lot to consider but preparation before involving your children will be key.
2. Keep Your Promises
If you say the reward will be given on Saturday do your best to make sure it happens on Saturday. It is understandable that things may come up but you must make this a priority or else he or she will give up on trying.
3. Add in small rewards leading up to a Larger Reward.
Particularly with younger children they cannot do things without reward for long periods of time. They do not see the point of doing them if there is nothing in it for them (they couldn't care less if their room was messy). Make sure the rules are clear. For example, if you get a star every day Monday- Friday you get extra screen time Friday night; If you do not get a star every day (because of requirements not being met, not because mommy and daddy forgot) you will not get extra screen time. This may take some time for them to learn and they will throw fits but just be prepared for that and stick to your guns!
4. Rewards do not have to cost money.
Many parents avoid doing charts like this because they do not want to spend a lot of money. Incorporate things such as quality time with you, extra screen time, or a few extra minutes of staying up before bed. This does not have to be expensive. These are great ideas for the smaller rewards leading up to the larger one.
You must make this a priority for your self also
5. Give the child a say in Rewards, Consequences, Punishments, and what Items go on the chart.
This is probably the most important. Children are such more likely to complete tasks and be excited about doing this if they have a say so and get to participate in the process. If they do not care for the reward you have chosen they will have no motivation to work towards it. If you are concerned about how much a reward would cost that they choose (one of my clients picked a hover board, I can't afford one of those for myself so it would be difficult to try to afford it for my child - but I would try) you can allow them to pick which one they would rather out of 2-3 options. Save for it if you have to and place the reward at a place in the chart where you know you can deliver. For instance, for a large reward like a new game system they may have to meet so many goals for three months, giving me time to save the money for it so that I don't disappoint (different post for a different day).
Black Parents (minority parents really) often do not incorporate charts and rewards because of this idea that a child should do something because an adult told them to or because it is their "responsibility". However, consider this - going to work is your "responsibility" right? But, what is your reward for that? Your paycheck. So, if your supervisor said, "this week we are not giving you a paycheck because we feel that this what you are supposed to do anyway" and still expected you to show up everyday on time how motivated would you be to do so? How well would you do your job that week? I preach all of the time that children are the same as adults in many ways - they are not exempt from feelings, emotions, and needs just because they are children.
Bonus Tip: Make this fun and exciting!Cheer them on and celebrate their successes! Do not make them feel bad when they miss out one day- give them hope for doing better the next day.
If you are in need of help with managing behaviors, incorporating rewards and punishments book a Family Support Session with me today by going here.
Do you use behavior charts for your children? Did your parents use any kind of reward system? Let me know in the comments