You know those behavior charts? The dorky ones with stars and stickers and “wow” and “good job”, all colorful and annoying?? Well, I don’t like those. Clearly.
My friend had a behavior chart when she was growing up and I thought it was so “uncool”. (So uncool that I asked my parents for one. Her mom made it herself and it was so pretty!!!!!) My parents believed you should do chores and good deeds without rewards, stickers or reinforcements. A thank you or smile was enough!
Having raised 3 of my 5 kids (past the age of 6 – trust me a huge accomplishment!!!), my 4th child has me stumped. He’s difficult, wild, and loves a nice reaction when he hits a kid. He’s the cutest and happiest kid ever with a mischievous expression planted on his face from G-d. He is midway through 4-years-old and literally stressing me out!!!! I desperately wanted to shove the problem on a behavioral therapist or a psychologist, but I knew deep down it was up to me. I googled a bit, did some research, and found fellow moms of 4 year-old boys who coined their situation: The Real Terrible Twos. I finally came to a conclusion: I needed to pull out the dorky behavior CHART!!!!!!!
Now, here is my adult take on it. So far it has been working amazing! We did a little Montessori spin on it. The kids helped me search on Amazon for the brightest, coolest, and most colorful behavior chart. (No, I’m not making one myself, sorry kids!!) It was a 3-kids-in-1 chart, so we use it for my 6-year-old, FOUR YEAR-OLD, and 3-year-old. I decided to involve my older kids. They were in charge of “looking and checking” up on the younger kids. My 11-year-old would give out the afternoon stars and my 9-year-old would give out the morning stars. My 11-year-old is a little too big for this, but as we all know, the oldest in the family is always “too old for everything”. It has been working brilliantly for the rest of the family. One of the tasks is getting dressed by themselves as soon as they wake up. So my 9-year-old gets dressed, and then reminds all the little ones to quickly get dressed. He even started helping the little kids get dressed. So far every single day this week, I did not have to play “police mom”, my 9-year-old helped all the little ones get ready and dressed. Even my 3-year-old is dressed before leaving her room! The little ones are learning to get dressed themselves from head-to-toe without their mother standing over them. And, of course, the chart did wonders for my 4-year-old.
Here are a few more tips on charts (my doctor gave me this advice when I had 2 children, I rolled my eyes and said “I’m not doing a chart”).
- Always give them some very easy jobs, so they feel confident. Mix the easy tasks or ones they do well with the other tasks you are working on. If a kid looks at a chart and knows everything is hard, they will give up, feel frustrated, or feel bad about themselves. For a little 4-year-old, they should be able to look at their chart and feel like they can fill it up ‘easily’ throughout the day.
- Don’t draw out the prize too much. If they are doing a chart for a month or 2 weeks, that’s way too long for a 4-year-old. That might work for older children, but little 4-year-olds need weekly prizes.
- I want all the kids to finish at the same time so we can have a nice big ice cream party (yeah, no ice cream in the freezer in my house). So we did star accomplishments by age. (My 6-year-old needs 16, my 4-year-old needs 14, and my 3-year-old needs 10).
- DON’T GIVE UP OR SLACK OFF
- Put the chart in a place that the kids pass by often, so they will constantly be reminded. I was going to put it in my kitchen, but my 9-year-old put it in the bedroom, which makes the most sense!! They see it in the morning and at night so they are reminded to brush their teeth and never ever, ever, ever, ever get out of bed!!!!!!