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Help me come up with an alternative to a color card system for behavior

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Connor's school uses color cards for behavior reinforcements: green is good, yellow is okay, red is bad. Green with a sticker is really good.

Ian has responded wonderfully to this, he calls me the second he's home from school to tell me what color card he got. We staple them into his notebook so he can see his cards. The few times he got a yellow card last year he was pretty devastated (no yellow cards at all this year!)

Connor, on the other hand, just doesn't "get" it. He has no understanding of the concept. We (myself, his teacher, his aides, and his ASL interpreter) have tried to explain it to him 20 different ways 2000 different times. They make a big deal out of it when he gets his green card every day.

But see...red is Connor's favorite color, so one day when I asked him what color card he got at school that day, he told me he wanted a red card. I explained that red makes mommy sad, green makes mommy happy, mommy wants him to get a green card.

He brought home his first ever yellow card this week and as I was talking to him about how mommy wants him to bring home a green card, he said again that he wants a red card.

How do I explain this to him? Or, what else can we do to get him to grasp the concept? The cards have faces on them already, smiley for green and sad for red. But he doesn't care...he likes red!!!

In general he's only now starting to connect action to consequence. He has been very slow to grasp that whole concept. He is finally responding to a "count down", but only after weeks of practicing (we practice when we nurse, we practice when we get dressed, we practice when we do anything that I can count...bedtime, bathtime, etc) In the past few weeks he's also starting to understand the concept of a "time out", but that was a hard one for him too.

So how do I explain the card system, or alternatively what else can we do to reinforce good behavior at school?
post #2 of 12
If he likes red it seems earning red would be the way to go?

Why can't they make a red card with a green sticker (or add a red sticker too)? Or maybe red could be good in his case (minus the sad face...which kinda icks me out altogether for some reason!)


If the school won't cooperate would he be excited to bring home a green card and get a red sticker or something like that in exchange?
post #3 of 12
Does he like traffic lights or trains or anything like that? DS's therapist used to use traffic lights when he was small...green lights mean keep on doing what you're doing, yellow means "slow down...you're starting to get out of control", and red means "you need to take a break to cool down". We'd actually have a cardboard stop sign and velcro the colored light he was at onto the cardboard.
post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sbgrace View Post
If he likes red it seems earning red would be the way to go?

Why can't they make a red card with a green sticker (or add a red sticker too)? Or maybe red could be good in his case (minus the sad face...which kinda icks me out altogether for some reason!)


If the school won't cooperate would he be excited to bring home a green card and get a red sticker or something like that in exchange?
I was thinking that too, but now we've been trying to harp the green=good into him for two months, I'm afraid it'll confuse him more if we suddenly switch, you know? I wish I had thought of that sooner.
Quote:
Originally Posted by AllyRae View Post
Does he like traffic lights or trains or anything like that? DS's therapist used to use traffic lights when he was small...green lights mean keep on doing what you're doing, yellow means "slow down...you're starting to get out of control", and red means "you need to take a break to cool down". We'd actually have a cardboard stop sign and velcro the colored light he was at onto the cardboard.
Yeah, my mom and I were talking about ways I can use green/yellow/red at home to reinforce what they're doing at school. Kind of like I had to use the count-down with everything all day long before it started to click for him.

I can tell that he's on the cusp of understanding action=consequence (both positive and negative) because I've been trying the "if/then" statements a lot (if you can wait quietly while mommy finishes X then you can have Y; if you finish all of your food then you can have a treat) and recently he's been responding to that sometimes. He also has started negotiating things, for example if I say no pretzels, he'll ask for "just one"; if I say no to nursing right now, he'll say "wait". So he's starting...he's close...and I feel like if his brain finally clicks on those concepts, then maybe the color system will make more sense.

Gah...I don't know!! Everything was so easy with Ian!
post #5 of 12
Why not just replace the red card with a color he does not like? Then green and yellow stay the same, but he does not want red.
post #6 of 12
LOL because I can totally relate. Red is my son's favorite color too.

They don't use this method in his class, probably because it's the autism classroom and several kids would have a hard time with this method. However, a few months ago I bought "The Way to A", which is a behavior system specifically developed for young kids with autism and other neurological disorders. The system teaches about making a choice between good behavior and bad behavior. The good behaviors are labeled with a big green Choice A and the bad behaviors are a big red Choice B. But my DS loves the color red and "B" is one of his favorite letters (it's one of his initials). So he always wants to choose the red B behavior.

I tried to reverse the choices, but it was a mess because I would have to recreate all of the visual support materials that were part of the program.

So instead we use the Incredible 5 Point Scale. This method takes advantage of DS's love of numbers and I can color code it anyway I want.

Connor is probably too young for the 5 point scale (although if he already has a grasp of numbers you could try a modified 3 point scale). But really you can use anything to categorize behavior, it doesn't have to be colors. You can use letters or numbers, if that works for him. You can use happy/sad face symbols, thumbs up/thumbs down symbols, etc. Or you can get creative and develop your own system, for example animals (ie a bear for bad behavior, a cat for good behavior - or whatever works for Connor).
post #7 of 12
OK, this is looking at the whole school, but you might ask them to think about changing to PBIS (Positive Behavioral Intervention Support) - it'd do away with the cards altogether.

Other than that, working on "red means stop, green means go" is about is good as I can come up with.
post #8 of 12
My first thought was to suggest a simple black and white smiley system, no colors (too abstract). I also like marble jars for behavioral modification. Take an empty jar, at first you might even start out with the child having a couple of marbles in it. However you do it, start clean slate everyday. When they are doing what you want, they get a marble. When they misbehave, they lose a marble. When the jar is full (or when they get a certain amount, whatever), they can buy a prize with them or save up and buy a big prize. The nice thing is, when they are having a hard time or just getting started, you can "catch" them doing well to motivate them, an then pull bak the lvel of reinforcement as their behvaior improves. An off week, ratchet it up again for a few days. Ooh, you could even use red marbles--get a jarful of red as the motivator!!! He might not even need a prize--when the jar is full, he gets to play with them?
post #9 of 12
That's exactly what I was going ot mention! Can you just use cards without color? Because the color thing assumes the child understands the red/yellow/green stoplight concept as well, AND that they can recognize and accept someone else's value being attached to the card color. I would totally push for a white card with a sad or happy face, which I feel IS totally appropriate given Connor's understanding of how his behaviors might impact other people. I also think it should be part of his IEP - he need something different than the rest of the class because he simply cannot adapt his undertstanding yet.
post #10 of 12
Maybe you could make a story up about how to get a green card or a red card, and what it means. Make a little book up and read it too him often. I put my DS stories in a small notebook with hand drawn pictures. Kinda like

Conner goes to school. At the end of the day Conner gets a card. When Conner plays nice with his friends(or whatever behavior it might be) he gets a green card. When Conner sits quietly at snack, he gets a green card. Mommy likes it when Conner has green days. When Conner does not follow directions (or whatever ) he gets a red card. Mommy is sad when Conner gets a red card.

You could add a couple of behaviors for each. Maybe it would help him grasp the why behind the cards.
post #11 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post
OK, this is looking at the whole school, but you might ask them to think about changing to PBIS ([UR="http://www.pbis.org/"]Positive Behavioral Intervention Support[/URL]) - it'd do away with the cards altogether.

Other than that, working on "red means stop, green means go" is about is good as I can come up with.
I love the first suggestion...I think it is totally ineffective and harmful for that. My BF sends her daughter to a school that uses it, and if they get so many yellow cards in a week they are punished on Friday by not being allowed to do a certain activity - I think 1 red automatically disqualifies you from the activity.
post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the suggestions, I'm going to be talking with his teacher tomorrow to discuss them and see what we can come up with. She's very willing to try something new, just didn't know what!
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