So. Eight years after having my first child, I have finally joined the world of behavior charts. It took me forever (like the meal planning) because… I was scared it would be too hard and I wouldn’t follow-through and I wouldn’t like my system. Yeah. I know.
Version 1 (which lasted more than a month) was simply a sheet of paper divided into three sections- one for each kid- that was taped to the fridge for all to see. They could earn 1 star sticker per day. Once they reached 10 stars, they could pick a prize out of a shoebox full of small goodies. This was a big hit. All three kids can count to ten and were able to keep track. Once someone earned 10 stars, I crossed those out with a red pen and we started over again the next day. Simple.
- Stars are awarded after dinner/just before bedtime by a parent only.
- If you don’t eat your dinner, you don’t get your star for the day. End of story.
- If you kick, bite, or hit someone during the day, you lose a star. Done.
- If you were caught doing something amazingly wonderful that day, you might earn an extra star.
The kids quickly found themselves on different numbers. I think Ry earned 4 prizes in 4 weeks. Abby refuses to eat dinner a lot, so she missed a few days. Gideon is all or nothing on life. Having siblings earning prizes on different days was not a problem for this crew. If anything, seeing the options in the prize box each time it came out was incentive to do better.
Prize Box Contents:
tictacs, chapstick, stickers, punching balloons, lego people, small beanie babies, spray bottles, and basically anything you’d find in the Target dollar aisle.
Problems with Version 1: it got messy after a few rounds of 10 with all the stars crossed out. We were going through a lot of star stickers. Kids (my kids) were fighting about which star sticker they got for the night. COME ON.
One particularly rough day (ahem), I pulled the star sheet off the fridge and ripped it up. NO STARS FOR ANYONE TODAY. (I’m not here because I’m awesome. I’m here because I’m honest.)
NOW. Yesterday, I created Version 2 with all the new hope that comes with starting over. Version 2 uses the same basic rules and rewards as Version 1. Each kiddo has a piece of card stock paper- again with their name, and again on the fridge for all to see. I changed things up a bit by stamping a simple “path” of stars numbered 1 through 10. Each kid has a magnet that travels forward or backward according to behavior. Once someone reaches 10, they get a prize and start over at 1 the next day.
FLAW: (noticed as soon as tall 8-year-old returned from school) Charts and magnets must be taller than tallest child.
Ideally, I’d like to combine the behavior chart with the daily schedule*/chores for each kiddo on a metal pan (like this) when we move to the Blue House this summer and have bit more wall space. Or maybe I’ll incorporate a clothespin system (like this). The kids LOVE seeing everything- having fun masking tape and colors and numbers and THEIR NAMES up… that’s super fun. Keeping the rules simple makes my expectations and their progress clear.
Mom just needs it to be simple.
So far, we all win.
* Right now we use a visual schedule with Ry that is identical to one she uses at school. It’s simply words and/or pictures on velcro that are exchanged each day. This has been incredible for her. Her anxiety goes way down when she can loosely plan out the day, even choosing free-time activities. I’ll show you how that works as soon as I snag some photos.