Reward Charts: Reaping Rewards for the Whole Family
I recently introduced a reward chart into our busy household for my 9 year old daughter.
By no means is she naughty, however her time spent watching American TV after homework, has led her to develop shall we say, ‘an attitude’ of late. “Whatevs mom” is the latest lingo she mutters, throwing her eyes to heaven, when being told off for being cheeky. In addition, the arrival of a new little sister was bound to cause a big disruption to the dynamics of the household. I noticed that her bad attitude was very much out of character as she is usually such a good girl.
Friends were quick to remind me that for 7 years she had me all to herself, me being a single mom at that time. Now this little person was taking a huge amount of that attention away from her, and the only way she felt she could get some ‘mom time’ was by being naughty. Being the first grandchild, she was always the one that was cooed over, and now everyone was understandably focused on the new little bundle of joy in our lives.
Obviously I sat down and had a chat with her, explaining that she was getting the wrong type of attention when she misbehaved. She was now a big sister, which was a very important job and she had to lead by example. I suggested we start a reward chart, in the hope it would encourage her to be better behaved, and as a result lead to a more tranquil and happy household for us all. So off to the Google machine I go, in search of some magic tips to help improve her attitude and encourage her to be better behaved.
Children like to have a routine I read, so we start by making a conscious effort to sit and have dinner as a family, every evening at the dinner table. She receives a star for setting the table and another for eating her vegetables and helping to clear up after dinner. It feels nice to be able to sit and talk without the distraction of TV, when all kids turn into zombies. We all talk about our day, stories from school, work and my reports on the little one’s antics throughout the day. Having become frustrated of late as a result of paying more attention to negative behaviour, I began to focus on the positives in her behaviour. “You are such a good girl to do all your homework without complaining. That’s another star on your reward chart”, I say and a big proud beam is her response.
Paying positive attention and using praise when she cooperates seems to be working tremendously well. I do however have to remind her from time to time, if I see something is about to happen and a star is in jeopardy. Very often that gentle reminder is enough to change her behaviour! The more stars earned the greater the reward every Friday night, which can vary from a chosen DVD, to a family day out. I find that by introducing an incentive, she is much happier to help around the house, and even offers to make after dinner coffees for everyone (without being asked). I think that it is important to reward her behaviour once she earns her stars. It is crucial your child doesn’t lose motivation if their efforts go unnoticed and unrewarded. And even when the behaviour improves, it is imperative to ensure the reward chart operates regularly so old habits don’t return.
In my experience, the reward chart has and will continue to have a positive effect on the whole family. There are less petty arguments in our house, (resulting in a less stressed mom!!) and I do believe it has and will continue to serve as a useful gateway to boost my daughter’s self-confidence.
Written by Susan Caplice for eumom