Here are a few pointers that will help maximise your chances of success.
- Be realistic and be specific
You know what your child will be able to do – make sure you pick something that they’ll be able to achieve. Also make sure you are very clear on what you want your child to do. Here’s a quick example – if you encourage your child to “behave at mealtimes” you’ll need to give specific examples. So you might say “I want you to be good at dinner time by (1) staying at the table and not getting down until everyone’s finished (2) asking people to pass things not just reaching across and grabbing them and (3) helping me to set the table”.
- Think about the best times to try new things
Try to work your chart into your routines at home – remember that when children are tired or focussed on other activities they’re less likely to adopt new behaviours. So try to pick the times of the day when you have the best chance of success. In our ‘behaving at the table’ example it might be best to set the table early rather than waiting until the last minute when children might be a bit more tired or engrossed in quiet activity.
- Practise what you preach
Talk about your own actions and highlight when others are demonstrating their good behaviour. For example, you might say “Oh look, Dad’s already set the table, let’s go and say thank”. This helps to reinforce the idea that this new behaviour is something we’d like to do to – it’s about joining in.
- Make sure others say well done
Encourage your child to tell others about their successes – being praised and congratulated helps to embed their new behaviour. So you can try saying “Go and tell Grandma how many times you’ve cleaned your room this week – show her your chart, I’m sure she’d love to see it”
- Avoid the negatives
Practise a few positive phrases – tell your child you’re looking forward to seeing them doing what they need to do to collect a star. Ask them to show you and count out how many stars they’ve collected – tell other people how well they’re doing in earshot. But also prepare yourself for the challenges along the way – there may be times when old habits resurface – stay clam and avoid focusing on the negatives whilst being positive about trying again next time. We know it might be tempting but please, never take away stars – charts won’t work if you do this.
We wish you every success and hope you all enjoy using your new chart – if you want to know more about what types of issues you can tackle with a chart please click here.