Sometimes parents are desperate to change their child’s inappropriate behaviour. Here is a simple way of modifying behaviour that is not acceptable by acknowledging positive behaviour.
Children are not born naughty, but many learn to respond negatively at an early age. Often this is a stage they’re going through, but for many defiance and temper tantrums become a natural reaction to things they don’t want to do. This puts a real strain on family relationships. Parents can easily fall into fall a negativity trap, punishing things that go wrong. Life can be much easier for families when parents acquire the habit of praising positive achievements instead.
If your child’s behaviour needs modifying, why not try reward charts. Most children delight in being noticed and by using reward charts you’re noticing the good things children do, not the bad things.
What are reward charts?
Reward charts can be used by families to set expected behaviour goals. A child is rewarded with a sticker or other visible means when the goal is achieved. This is an easy way for parents to reward acceptable behaviour.
Parents can make simple charts or more elaborate ones can be purchased. There are many online parenting sites offering these charts free. Home made ones can reflect a child’s interests and can be designed by the child.
How do you use reward charts?
When setting up a reward chart system, explain the current behaviour causing concern to your child. Explain how family relationships could be improved. Give your child an opportunity to express their feelings so that a mutual agreement for the need to change is reached.
Then discuss more appropriate or more acceptable behaviour. Each family should choose what they implement. Settle for one or two goals, as more will be confusing. These may be as simple as helping with a simple household chore or responding in a positive way when asked to do something.
Finally, choose a simple, inexpensive reward if a certain number of stickers are reached within a week. Negotiate with your child what a suitable reward would be if they reach the required number of stickers.
Why are reward charts so successful?
Reward charts acknowledge positive behaviour and achievement. Most children are attention seekers and like to be noticed. Children should be praised often when doing the right thing.
Stickers give children a visible record of their progress. For many, simply receiving the stickers will be enough. However, if they also receive an inexpensive reward or treat of their choice at the end of the week, they’ll focus even more on getting their stickers.
Place the chart where all the family can see it, such as on the fridge. This enables family members to encourage and support the child whose behaviour is being modified. Again, the child receives plenty of positive attention.
Should all children have a reward chart?
Not all children in any family need a reward chart. Most children cope with parents requests to modify behaviour. Reward charts are for children whose negative behaviour has become a normal way of behaving. They need help with making the changes asked of them. Explain this to the others in the family.
How long should the reward chart system be in place?
The simple answer to this is for as long as it’s needed. Often a child will suggest they no longer need the chart. Before this happens, depending on the level of change, consider reducing the number of stickers rewarded for success and extending the time frame. This is a simple way of weaning your child off the charts. Some children may need rewards for quite a long time; others will respond and turn their behaviour around more quickly.
Give reward charts a go
If you have a child causing concern, give reward charts a go. Adjust the goals and rewards according to your child’s age. This system does not work for every child, but it works for most. If the whole family is involved in being positive and supporting behaviour change it’s more likely to work. This is a wonderful way to improve family relationships in your home.
Published in: Family