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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We've been having some challenges with our four year old lately, and I've just got to change something. I'm finding myself getting waaay too angry at her. She's really pushing my buttons and I'm losing ways of gaining cooperation. We try to use natural consequences as much as possible, but she's getting to the point where she's misbehaving just to get the natural consequence, which is really driving me nutty.

So, we've decided to try something completely different. I was rereading Dr. Sears "The Discipline Book" for the umpteenth time this evening, but for the first time since my daughter turned four a couple of months ago, and I found this section on Rewards Charts. There was a particularly interesting passage (to me) about tickets instead of charts. It really seems like something that might work for us. So, I wanted to just wanted to post this and see if there are some pitfalls or any other advice people can offer.

I wrote down a list of behaviors that we would like to see. I stayed completely in the positive. Like "Bonnie uses her hands in a loving way" or "Bonnie speaks gently" or "Bonnie sets the table". I have a list of 14 behaviors, some of them very easy for her to achieve mixed in with the behaviors we really want to work on - "Bonnie is respectful while others are on the phone".

So, the plan is tomorrow we're going to make a pretty sign with all the behaviors printed up on it. We'll decorate it and post it somewhere prominent. She reads, so this will help her remember what we're working on. She's very excited about getting stars. I think she's really interested in *holding* the stars more than putting them on a chart. So, what we're going to do is cut a bunch of stars out of construction paper, cover them with contact paper and give her three to start the day. I will give her one star if she does something good, hopefully this will reinforce the positive more than we've been doing lately. And, if she does something contrary to the posted list, she'll have to give a star back.

I'm trying to figure out what she's going to DO with the stars. That's where I need the most help. I have no idea how many stars she will end up with at the end of the day. I'm figuring at first it will be considerably lower than it will ultimately end up, but with practice, she'll start earning more and more. The problem with that is I want to really reinforce the positive at first, and get her motivated to earn a LOT of stars. I'm thinking we might start with 10 stars gets her a piece of candy (leftover from Halloween - one way to get rid of it!), 15 stars gets her a video, 20 stars gets her an ice cream and 25 stars gets her a trip to a restaurant. She can save or cash in her stars at any point, but must always have three left when she cashes them in (so there's some to take away if we need to).

I'm really excited about this too. She was so happy when we started talking about it, and even had some really good suggestions for the list of behaviors. (She DOES listen, as it turns out.) I'm seeing some opportunities for teaching with the stars too. "How many more do you need to get an ice cream?" learning about budgeting, delaying gratification, all sorts of things.

I'm sure we're not the first to try something like this. How has it worked for others? Is there something I'm missing? Is this too complicated? TIA!
 

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I've never tried this with my almost 4 year old, but I have a good friend (who is very AP) that has had much success with this.

The only thing I can see that makes me think a little is that you are using food as rewards. I tend toward making food a non-issue. But you know what works best for your dd.
Also, how about letting your dd help you set the goals, so that she's really working toward something SHE wants that week? Maybe she has her heart set on a new pencil she saw in the store or there is something happening the upcoming weekend that she would really like to attend. It doesn't have to be the same thing all the time that she's working toward necessarily. And that way she's taking more ownership of the goal. Just a thought. Good luck!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Excellent point about the food. I hadn't even noticed that! We're trying to make the rewards happen frequently at first, to help get this started. Maybe we'll do extra art projects (something I'm faaar too lazy about doing as frequently as she wants to) or something else instead. We're just about to sit down and make the chart (I wanted some graphics to paste in so I'm printing from the computer right now). All day, we've been talking about how this or that would be something she got a star for or lost one for. She's already thinking more, which is really what I was hoping for. We'll see how it goes!

Thanks for the feedback!
 

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Sorry, but I personally do not care for reward charts.

First and foremost, you are of course doling out consequences that are not just non-natural but also not logical (unrelated to the behavior.) That is punishment and I think that we don't really set up a healthy dynamic when we punish (even non-harshly). What do you mean by she is engaging in a behavior to obtain the "natural consequence"?

Second, I don't think it is helpful to reward children for behavior that is appropriate and expected.

Third, setting up a system where a child can "pay for their crime" by giving up a star, does not to me teach them about acting in a respectful manner torwards others becasue it is the right thing to do.
 

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i do not feel it is a good way for her to internalise what you want her to internalise. i know you are going through a very challenging time right now, but what do you ultimately want from her -- to be gentle because she does not want to hurt anyone, or because she has a star coming.

i was at a neighbour's house, who uses a similar system, and we were talking about rewards in general. things that i have read -- that children who are praised tend not to engage in the 'desired' behaviours when they are not observed; that children lose their intrinsic motivation; etc. she just laughed me off.

then 2 things happened. her daughter was dancing and constantly glancing if her mother was noticing. when she realised she was not, she stopped dancing. but this was not salient enough for my neighbour (though it was for me).

then the girl came over to her baby sister, glanced at her mother, gave the sister a hug, and said 'can i get a sticker now? i was being good.' then when her mother was not watching she was trying to pull her sister by her hair.

then there is another issue. you talk very casually about 'more stars' in the beginning, less stars later, exchanging for other items etc. well, you are talking about reinforcement schedules. behaviorist researchers conducted countless studies and experiments, designing the most perfect schedule to fit a particular situation. there are continuous schedules, intermittent schedules, and many subtypes of each. each has its specific purpose, each had downfalls. it is more complex than you would think, and frankly, i would not take any of it lightly. changing a schedule is not as easy as it seems, and there are specific ways to do.

the bottom line is -- behaviorism was developed on rats. it puts behaviour in front of thought, in front of emotions. your child is not a robot, neither she is a rat (no offence to rats, they are exceptionally smart).
 

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Before you start using secondary reinforcement, I'd highly recommend reading,Punished By Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise, and Other Bribes by Alfie Kohn.

You can get very good results from secondary reinforcement and punishment in the short term, but it can have lasting impact on how a person is and is not motivated, decreasing intrinsic motivation (which is so precious!) and increasing extrinsic motivation (which is what many of struggle against our whole lives).
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by RubyWild
Before you start using secondary reinforcement, I'd highly recommend reading,Punished By Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise, and Other Bribes by Alfie Kohn.

You can get very good results from secondary reinforcement and punishment in the short term, but it can have lasting impact on how a person is and is not motivated, decreasing intrinsic motivation (which is so precious!) and increasing extrinsic motivation (which is what many of struggle against our whole lives).
:

here is a good article: http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/ror.htm
 

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I have used reward charts with my 4 year old and it really helped get us through some times where he was not wanting to try some new foods or get himself ready in the morning to go. We used a sticker chart and he had three things he needed to earn stickers for. One was picking up, which was easy as its something he is good about, one was for trying something new and one was for putting on his shoes in the am. If he did one of those things he could put a sticker on the chart, and if he earned all 3 stickers he would get a quarter for the day.... it worked so well for us.

However, I really like what these ladies are saying about wanting the child to do it more because of intrinsic motivation... so how do you do that? How do you help your child to think this way before losing your mind repeating yourself and ... well I get angry which I dont like. I used the rewards chart bc it was positive rather than having to issue a time out or get upset and lecture and eventually yell (which is my biggest battle in life). So I am asking for ways to do this.. i suppose i could try to find this book.... but this is quicker
.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
These are interesting suggestions, and things that I've been saying and doing for as long as I've been a parent. I've read that book, and others that reinforce positive discipline, and I'm not having much success in recent events. Thus, the need to try something completely different, and the reason this was NOT posted in the GD board. When something isn't working, I have to change directions. And, I think my daughter is feeling the same way. Not all kids are the same, and what works for some won't work for others.

I really like the feedback about choosing a wider variety of rewards. We've done that as a result of this thread. I've added in a crafts project as something we can work towards.

I'm going to give this a good college try and see how it works. I think there are a few things that can be gained from this. Number one, it will help me notice when Bonnie is doing something positive. By watching her to see when she's earned a star, that will be a positive side effect. Lately, it seems like she's only doing things that are driving me nuts, so seeing the positive will certainly be an improvement, and will help change my perspective. If nothing else, that will be a positive outcome.

I don't buy into the whole idea that this will adversely affect her for the rest of her life. I think children change frequently, and the way we raise them needs to change in kind. This is one of the many ways I'm trying to change with her.

We've already seen some positive steps made. I think it's helping Bonnie to have her boundaries written down where she can see them and be reminded of them. She's already internalized some of the messages. One of the "behaviors we have written down" is "Bonnie uses her special place for self control". She has an area in our closet which is designated just for her. Now, before anyone goes off saying "she sends her to her closet????" our closet is as big as another room (total wasted space, IMO). We've given her a little corner, complete with pillows, a special blanket and a bag of books (which she adores) and it's a place where she can escape from her brother or from me or just wants some time alone. Yesterday, several times when her brother started to grab her toys and she would ordinarily be inclined to hit him, she stopped and announced "I'm using my special place for self control!" and ran off to her little corner. It was fabulous! I was so proud of her for having the knowledge that things were getting out of hand and she needed to escape. If I hadn't written that down, I'm not sure it ever would have happened. I've suggested it to her many times, but until it was posted somewhere visible, she's never actually done it. She came back a few minutes later, clearly proud of herself and avoided an altercation entirely. I gave her a star for that one, and she well deserved it!

I also believe that helping her get some better habits now, whether they're a result of intrinsic or extrinsic motivators is going to improve things dramatically. I've been trying logical consequences, natural consequence, positive discipline and have a whole SHELF full of books that I refer to. This was not a spur of the minute decision. It was based on research, experience and intimate knowledge of my own child. She needs something to shake things up. This seems to be working for now. And, if it stops working, we'll move on to something else. I'm all about growing with her.

Thanks for the feedback, everyone.
 

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The ticket system work for one of my friend who is AP and has a very spirited child. She did not take away tickets if the child misbehaved but, talked about how that could have been a good opportunity to get a ticket, if actions were different. My girls are only 3.5 and I have considered this method but, for now the basic GD style has worked. Let us know how thing go, different solutions for different kids.
 

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I wonder how it would work if you and dd each made up a resolutions sign, but skipped the whole reward thing? If dd came up with things that she thought she could try to be better about and you made a list of things like doing more art projects, you might get the desired effect without the potential pitfalls.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by mommycaroline
We've already seen some positive steps made. I think it's helping Bonnie to have her boundaries written down where she can see them and be reminded of them. She's already internalized some of the messages. One of the "behaviors we have written down" is "Bonnie uses her special place for self control". She has an area in our closet which is designated just for her. Now, before anyone goes off saying "she sends her to her closet????" our closet is as big as another room (total wasted space, IMO). We've given her a little corner, complete with pillows, a special blanket and a bag of books (which she adores) and it's a place where she can escape from her brother or from me or just wants some time alone. Yesterday, several times when her brother started to grab her toys and she would ordinarily be inclined to hit him, she stopped and announced "I'm using my special place for self control!" and ran off to her little corner. It was fabulous! I was so proud of her for having the knowledge that things were getting out of hand and she needed to escape. If I hadn't written that down, I'm not sure it ever would have happened. I've suggested it to her many times, but until it was posted somewhere visible, she's never actually done it. She came back a few minutes later, clearly proud of herself and avoided an altercation entirely. I gave her a star for that one, and she well deserved it!
I just read this post and I wanted to state that I completely agree with you that as parents we have to keep trying new things as our children grow.

Also, I think you have found that writing out suggestions/options is a good way for your daughter to internalize what you are saying. This may work even without the reward system.
 

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First, let me preface this by sharing that I have been a public elementary school teacher for 9 years and have NEVER used any kind of behavior modification system, positive or negative. I am the mom of a challenging 5 year old boy who has been in and out of every variety of overwhelming phase...and I did not use a behavior modification system- until this summer. Ds somehow developed a very rude way of speaking, and it worsened to the point that he was speaking only rudely to everyone, all the time. I could not allow it to continue, but I was having no luck stopping it. I explained to him a new rule, that each time he took the opportunity to ask for something in a polite manner or to refuse something nicely, he could get a star. I divided a notecard into 16 spaces, and I told him that if the notecard was all filled with stars in a day, he could receive a prize. Let me say that I saw this a very short term fix, to kind of get him back on track and remember his good habits. I targeted a very specific behavior, rather than a whole bunch at once, and we used it for 2 weeks only. By the end of 13 or 14 days, he forgot about the stars and the prizes- he usually isn't extrinsically motivated at all, so I wasn't surprised. And the nasty behavior has stayed away for 3 months since! So, I think it CAN work out, even though I am theoretically opposed.
 
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