If you have used printable reward charts with your children in the past, you have probably experienced frustration once or twice. That’s because, while reward charts are a great teaching tool, they are often used too casually to produce results.
To see results using printable charts, you’ll need to organize your efforts a bit. The good news is these ideas are not difficult. Consistency is the real key here.
1. Be clear.
Do your kids know exactly why you are asking them to participate in using a reward chart? I mean EXACTLY why? Before you fill out one chore or behavior chart, you need to sit down with yourself and ask what you want to accomplish using these tools.
* Are you trying to teach a specific chore? For example, how, when and what to clean? Or getting control of clutter?
* Are you trying to improve your child’s organizational habits? Or are you really trying to improve *your* organizational habits?
* Are you aiming for character development training? Improving a bad attitude or dealing with non-stop sibling rivalry?
* Do you really need printable homework charts instead of reward charts?
The point here is that until you are crystal clear about what you are aiming for, you probably are not going to achieve it. Once you get clear on your goal, explain this to your child. For example, if you tell your child that he needs to keep his room clean but don’t spell that out in detail, you can be assured that your idea of his room being clean and his idea are totally different.
So be clear with your expectations, explain them to your child and write those expectations on the reward charts you use. Now everyone is on the same page.
2. Be positive.
No one likes to be nagged. In over 27 years of parenting I’ve never seen nagging produce lasting results. Momentary ones, yes. But then you must keep nagging and you will get less and less satisfactory results.
There’s got to be a better way and there is.
Keep the whole process positive and matter-of-fact. Use rewards and prizes to keep people excited and in the game, but remember, ultimately, family members have to take ownership of the tasks you put on the reward charts in order to be successful. Nagging keeps you owning the situation. A positive attitude puts the ball back in your child’s court.
“I see by looking at your reward chart that you have two items left to work on today (or whatever the situation is in your home). Those must be done by dinnertime; let me know when they are completed.” (What if they won’t do their chores? That’s called consequences; keep reading.)
No nagging. Remember, your attitude will be picked up by your child. As the parent, you set the tone in your home. Kids of any age have difficulties with their attitudes; it’s called growing up. Be straightforward and let your kids know that positive is the tone you want in your home. Then show them how to do it and practice together.
3. Follow through.
Since you’re reading an article about reward charts, you must be interested in offering your kids a reward or prize for some sort of behavior modification. That’s fine, just make sure you follow through. Nothing will kill motivation faster in your household than a child learning that she won’t *really* get the reward she was promised for doing her part.
Likewise, if there are consequences for not getting the tasks completed you have assigned (and there must be consequences), then those must be followed through on as well or you have no hope of motivating your child to change their behavior. All children test their parent’s boundaries with great consistency. This is normal behavior. Likewise, it’s normal parenting behavior to have to enforce the boundaries that have been set.
Obviously, what this really means is that you, as the parent, must give careful consideration to both rewards and consequences before this process even starts. Don’t overdo or under-do. No trips to Disneyland for a clean bathroom and no groundings for forgetting to hang up a towel once. Bottom line is always the Golden Rule. Treat others as you want to be treated. And enforce those boundaries!
Using printable reward charts can be a ‘rewarding’ experience in a family if you remember to use these tools effectively by getting clear on your expectations, staying positive and following through from start to finish. Consistency with these three keys will yield tremendous success over the lifetime of your family.