TIP TUESDAY: Sticker Charts a Rewarding Experience In More Ways Than One

I promised in this post (https://realmomtime.wordpress.com/2011/07/26/tip-tuesday-chores-and-kids/ ) that it was way past time to get T’s sticker chart back up-and-running, and so that’s what I finally did this past weekend. Before updating the chart, I looked it over; since the last time we were using this tool (which was about a year ago, whoops), it was amazing to me how much seemed to have NOT changed. Hmm, that seemed odd.

These were the things T needed to work on as of September 2010:
–         I used my words to express my frustration/ anger; I asked for help if I needed it.
–         I listened to my mom/ dad when it was time to leave the party, park, etc.
–         I went to my bed and slept all by myself (nap OR overnight).
–         I peed in the potty first thing when I woke up.

And here were the three “chores” T helped with during this same time period:
–         I helped take out trash.
–         I cleaned up my toys.
–         I helped with the laundry.

The latest chart consists of the following:
–         I used my words to express my frustration/ anger; I asked for help if I needed it.
–         I used please and thank you nicely to request what I need/ want.
–         I listened to my mom/ dad when it was time to leave the party, park, etc.
–         I didn’t fight bedtime or nap time/ rest time.
–         I used the big potty for poops (versus porta-potty).

Rather than contribute to the deja-vu more than I already have, the most recent chart also contains the same three regular chores from one year ago.

Then I had a light bulb moment: T has a case of full-blown regression. Yikes.

Seeing T’s regression laid out before me on his rewards chart in black and white made the conclusion crystal clear. Along with now having to work on much of the same behavior challenges from a year ago, baby talk has made a comeback, whining is way up, tantrums have returned (in 3D Technicolor!), and my once uber-independent little dude is a cling-bot of epic proportions. Yep, seen all that before! The good news: It appears to all be normal, age-appropriate behavior (um, whew?). In talking to all my friends who either have navigated through and survived three-and-a-half already or are vacationing there now, this age has repeatedly been described to me as “two-and-a-half, with vocabulary!” Truer words have never been tantrum’ed, er, I mean, spoken. So rather than schedule a doctor’s visit, because we’ve all certainly felt violently ill for a couple of weeks now from all of this, I’m going to try to ride out the latest wave of nausea and revive the sticker chart. Same topics or not, the goal is the same: Let’s ALL refocus and get back on track and work toward improving behavior and quality of life.

We’re working the chart the same way we did before: If there is an unprovoked, un-prodded, non-begged, successful episode that falls into any of the categories above, T earns a sticker toward a greater reward. But this time, there’s a twist: For every time T takes a step back to his steps forward, we will remove one sticker toward the reward. Maybe he went straight into bed last night without a fight and slept awesome all night through, but today he decides to fight me over quiet/ rest time with abject defiance, tantrum, and sass; yep, that absolutely voids the previous good behavior and one sticker comes down. C and I really didn’t want to go this route, but we needed a way visually to explain to T that we will discipline negative behavior (not punish, notice the word choice there?) just as much as we will reinforce and celebrate positive behavior.

T's sticker chart, re-established August 2011.

As for the rewards system, once T earns 10 stickers in a given category, he’ll get to choose from a set of toys and trinkets I will keep as photo files on my laptop. Both T and I will go through the photos and write in the reward for each item so he knows what he’s working toward for each specific goal line, and I can refer back to the photos at any given time he requests to see them. We are fairly far away from any earned rewards, but we just got restarted, so it’s not a problem (yet anyway). Plus, I still have to dig the goodies out of the closet and photograph them sometime when T’s not around to see me do that (ha ha, hope I can get that part done sometime this year).

The exceptions to the sticker-removal rule are the chore categories. C and I believe that T can help with these jobs when he’s willing to and that he’s still way too young for us to force him into being a household workhorse and for any sort of reward (as much as I can’t wait for the day, believe me, again see https://realmomtime.wordpress.com/2011/07/26/tip-tuesday-chores-and-kids/ ). Also any reward earned for chores will be more of the experience-type (i.e., go to favorite dessert shop for a treat; pick a favorite outing we don’t go to often or locally; extra day/night out with Auntie; or a dinner or nighttime play date with a friend) versus the toy-based variety; after all, chores benefit all of us, so we all should get ice cream, right?!

Do you use rewards charts? What kinds? What sorts of goals or behaviors are you working at reinforcing with your kids and at what age? Share with us, RMT’ers!