We've adapted it somewhat since starting it. I found I wasn't giving out enough stars to take away with the frequency we needed to initially. And, it was completely devaluing them. So, now, she gets five stars at the beginning of the day. If she does something she shouldn't, we read the list of behaviors we want and figure out which one it was. And, we're working towards an American Girl big girl doll. It will take her ages and ages to earn it, but she hasn't stopped asking for it and we decided it's a strong enough motivator to keep her interest. So, we have a printout of the doll that she wants, and I drew 100 dots around the doll. For every star she has left at the end of the night, she can connect a dot. When the dots are all connected, we'll order the doll. (although, they're on sale now, so I'm thinking about getting it now and hiding it away) Along the way we have some mini rewards notated. She'll get $1 to spend at the dollar store at certain milestones, just to keep her interest going. It's actually produced some amazing results already. She's more conscious of what she's doing. And, if she does something she shouldn't, she stops, looks at me, and says "I'll go get a star." There's been no tantruming about returning the stars, except the one night she had to give me her very last star. As long as she has one left, she does well. And, when she's down to only one, she works really hard to keep it. I just wish she'd work that hard all day, but she's a kid, so she's allowed to slip up here and there.
I'm hoping that she'll get into really good habits in the three months it will probably take her to earn this doll. That by the end, once she gets the doll, we won't be using it anymore. That's what I'm anticipating anyway. How long does it take a child to make a new habit? I've heard with adults, it's 30 days, so we're giving her a little extra time to really set these habits in good. I do want her to be internally motivated to behave kindly and respectfully, but things had gotten a little out of hand so we had to make a change. I'm really hopeful this is going to be it.
I feel responsible for things coming to this. I kept hearing "4 is easier" so I admit, I let her go a little further than I should. She had been getting really, gosh, I hate to say it, but snotty. Stomping her feet when she's angry (sometimes on your toes), really talking back nastily, just really stretching her limits as far as she could. And, now, we're reeling her back in. I DO think that she's benefitting from having some clear boundaries right now. And, it helps my husband be consistent with her, too. We have very clear expectations, and when she doesn't meet them, we're able to concisely say why.
And, Bonnie was totally out of control on my freak out days. I haven't had one since we started this, and she's so much more pleasant to deal with. I'm feeling calmer, she's acting up less, it's all good (for now...)