Is it a sign of how darn bad my parenting is, that a reward chart can turn my seven year old into the angel child that I never can?!
I’ve used reward charts on and off with my kids over the years, but more for big milestone events like potty training or more recently helping my four year old to stop sucking his thumb. Yes they do the trick, but can they really replace my motherly praise and encouragement?!
When moaning to a friend recently that my seven year old was being
a pain in the arse very testing, she suggested a reward chart. I rubished it at the time, explaining that despite sometimes losing my sh!t with his behaviour (who doesn’t?!) I actually spend a lot of time recognising, highlighting and praising his good behaviour. The verbal equivalent of a sticker on a chart if you will. If I am telling him and showing him that I appreciate his good behaviour then why would he need a reward chart?
Well, in a moment of desperation when he was kicking off, I’d confiscated half of his toy collection, and I couldn’t think of a way out of this one, I told him I was going to make a chart and he needed earn his prized possessions back.
I thought he was going to laugh in my face, in a “come on mum, I’m seven not four” kind of way. But no, he thanked me and started excitedly planning what the chart was going to look like, what stickers we could use and how good he was going to be to earn them!
What followed was the best four days behaviour that I have witnessed from my child for a very long time! He was polite and kind, he listened, he talked to me, he did jobs, he did his homework, he did what I asked him to do the first time I asked him not the 10th! Now don’t get me wrong, he is often kind and lovely and what not, but sporadically and never for four days in a row!
What is it about a sticker, a little piece of sticky foil, a simple art and craft supply, that turns a child into a little angel? What is it that is so desirable about a sticker that makes a seven year old boy completely change his behaviour?! Now, I am not sure I will ever find out, but hey if it is that simple and it works that much better than my mummy praise and encouragement ever does, then hell I am buying the best, shiniest gold star stickers I can find!
I don’t know and I will tell you after I’ve implemented ours! Harry keeps getting out of bed before the sun comes up on this Gro Clock and we have given up confiscating the iPad (choosing our battles wisely there I think) so in a last ditch desperate attempt to get him to stay in bed until 6.30AM I have been to Hobby Craft today to get a reward chart. I’ve never used one before and I am taking your post as a massive encouragement that we may in fact sleep past 5.30AM again. #brilliantblogposts
5.30am, poor you! Good luck, in my experience they will do anything for a sticker so I hope it works for you too. Thanks for reading. x
Crazy! But also heartening that it’s a trick I’ll be able to whip out of my tool box for a few years to come. Don’t question it – embrace it! Gold stars clearly rock!
I tend to find with my little ones that something will work for a while then the novelty wears off and I need to find something else to motivate them for a while. Soon enough we’ll end up rotating back to the beginning one again!