I know these things won't work for everyone, but they do for us. Well, in so much as they enable us to deal with the bad and less desirable stuff in a calm, consistent approach. They don't stop the bad stuff (lets face it, if they did, I wouldn't be writing a blog about behaviour would I?!), but they make it more manageable.
<<EDIT>>Just to say we've moved on a bit now. Our reward charts and happy/sad sides began to cause problems, although we still use The Grab Bag. Read about our decision here. I've kept them here because it's all part of our journey, and this blog is to record that journey.<<EDIT>>
So here's the chart - I make these so I can tailor the aim, how many days it's over, how many grab bag days...it's so flexible. So this is one I've knocked up quickly to show you what we do, the aim of this is to get Mini reading at least one of his short school books each day.
|Mini's latest reward chart|
So for each book Mini reads after school, he gets a sticker. He only ever has 2 books, but he can choose whether he reads 1 or both (aiming for 1 or 2 stickers). For the first grab bag he'll need to read 4 times. It doesn't matter if it's every day, just that he does it 4 times. For the next, he'll need to read 6 times, and so on.
Whether he reads or not is his choice, but the consequences are clear - he'll get a sticker if he reads and he won't if he doesn't.
The reason our health visitor referred to this as behaviour modification is because it doesn't reward all behaviour, but aims to modify a specific behaviour, whilst also teaching the child consequences.
I make the charts long enough so that by the time Mini's got the final grab bag, the behaviour is pretty much part of his routine, and we expect it to continue. But not too long that he gets bored. If we add too many steps/stickers in, Mini gets frustrated or bored and loses interest, it always has to remain achievable. And sometimes we had to break it down to half days, rather than whole days to maintain that interest.
So that's the actual reward chart. We try to only use 1 or 2 charts at any one time, if you try to change too many behaviours at once it just goes all wrong.
Previous charts have been for - having a wee when asked, remembering to wee before bed, remembering to brush teeth before bed, completing a morning routing - wash, teeth, wee, get dressed, finishing drinks at meal times, being dry at night, being dry in the day. Sometimes he'll get a bit slack on any one of these, so we reinstate a short reward chart and it soon picks up again.
The grab bag is great. In the past we had a specific item he was working towards but he gets easily frustrated and would only feel let down if he wasn't reaching it as quick as he wanted, so he'd just get cross, not get his stickers, and not get the cherished prize.
This way, there is less pressure on him. Mini knows the grab bag is full of things he'd like, so he's happy to work towards a surprise, but because it's not something that he knows he desperately wants, he's not so disappointed if he misses a sticker one day. It's win-win too, as we can fill it with little bits and pieces rather than a big item, and we just make sure we keep it stocked with sweets, pocket money things and small bits I see on offer!
Here's the current contents:
|Current grab bag contents|
In the past we've had books, a yoyo, a whoopee cushion, rubbers etc
Now don't get me wrong, we reward certain behaviours this way, but there are some bad behaviours that we just cannot ignore so this is what we do...
This is kind of a continuation of a system they use at Mini's school.
Every child starts their day on the happy side (the one in the middle), and then as and when they do something great, they get moved up onto the super-happy side, and if they do something not-so-good, they get moved down onto the sad side. At school if they are on the sad side a certain number of times they have to go and see the head.
So at home, Mini starts on the happy face every day - see the little white face in the middle - that's him!
When he does something good (laying the table without being asked, being especially kind to Dollop, expressing himself really well, managing to keep splashing in the bath, not the floor, playing with Dollop etc) he gets moved up. And each subsequent time he moves up another number. Each number has it's own reward - 1 - extra kisses and cuddles straight away 2 - a sweet from the special sweetie dish 3 - a dip in the grab bag (see- it gets used in many ways). We use the super-happy side as much as possible, and Mini regularly makes it to number 3.
Equally, when Mini is naughty he gets moved down to the sad side. By naughty, I mean he point blank refuses to do what he's asked, or he throws food around at the table, or he won't give Dollop back her toys. Again each number has it's own downside - 1 - a toy is removed til the next day 2 - time out 3- cancellation of a trip out or similar. We use the sad side sparingly and I think we've only ever got to number 3 once (in 8 months of using this system!).
Our final strategy is timeout. In this house we call it time out, not the naughty step or reflection area. It's time out of a situation where Mini has been naughty - where he can be safe and reflect, or just scream it out. It's not pleasant, he doesn't like being on it. He tries to get off it. He often screams his head off. But timeout is somewhere where he won't hurt himself if he does scream or kick out, and he won't hurt others either.
Sometimes, when we can see he needs it, we hold and cuddle him (time in style) on the time out mat, so he feels secure, safe and re-assured, whilst still being removed from the situation that caused the original outburtst.
We only use time out for two specific behaviours, which Mini is fully aware of - screaming (and I mean that horrid high pitched scream, not just shouting) and hitting (me, NC, Dollop or any visitors).
This again was suggested by the health visitor as a way of modifying behaviour. I can't say it has modified it - Mini still does these two specific things, but less frequently than before. NC seems to need timeout more than me (he gets thumped more than I do), and I can't remember the last time I used it.
So they, at the moment, are the strategies that work for us.