Thursday, April 2, 2009

Systems of Reward

I have to admit that I've never been a huge fan of reward systems- like sticker charts- as a parenting device. I understand the appeal in a school setting because the teacher is dealing with a group of students instead of a one on one, parent and child relationship.
However, I have a child who reacts very favorably to a tangible reward, to physical evidence of positive reinforcement.
I work hard to follow her lead, to meet her where she is.
We are doing the sticker chart.
It kind of started with the school visit this week. The class has a "Wow Card" reward system set up. There is a thing on the wall and each child has a pocket. There are laminated green cards that say "WOW!!" When the teacher "catches" you making a good choice, she may instruct you to get a Wow Card and put it in your envelope. After so many Wow Cards, you get to put a sticker on this chart that also hangs on the wall. Once the chart is full, you get to pick a reward from the Treasure Chest.
This is a BIG DEAL.
Teagan watched very intently the 2 times I saw a child get a Wow Card. She turned and studied that whole set up a few times on her own.
She's got this thing about charts anyway. PBS' "Sid the Science Kid" did a thing about charts once and she likes to make charts from time to time now because of it.
As an answer to the ongoing saga of the bedtime stress, we now have a sticker chart.
Teagan can earn a sticker at our potentially difficult transition points- bedtime, getting dressed, getting out the door, dinnertime. And we also added having a good day full of good choices at Lisa's house. 5 sticker earning opportunities. And when she earns 5 stickers in a day, she gets to play the Wii for about 15 minutes after Zach goes to bed.
Day 1... she only got 4 stickers. Really bad day at Lisa's (which is rare). So what do I do with 4 stickers?? She ends up giving me the suggestion... she handled the knowledge that she wasn't going to achieve her 5 stickers really well. I reminded her that she could still earn her dinnertime sticker- and she asked about dessert. We aren't a dessert family so it's a "big deal" to have dessert.
So we have a reward system based on the number of stickers earned. 5 stickers, play the Wii. 4 stickers, small dessert (sherbet or jello). 3 stickers, quiet play time in your room before bed. Any less... no reward. Heck, even the 3 sticker thing might not get a reward some days... we'll see.
I'm playing this by ear and we will fix it when we find it to be broken.
I have to run. I need to seriously stock up on stickers.


Valerie said...

Dollarstores are amazing places to find countless stickers.

I'm not a reward person either, but sometimes it does the trick...a chart where Miss Moon could use MY stamps from my card making supplies was what worked for Toilet Learning here!

Isabella said...

Good idea!

When I was in second grade, we had a sticker system. I don't remember what the reward was, but I do remember trying really hard to be good all the time so I could get a sticker.
(See? It even works on the big kids)

You could also have some fun with making your own stickers. Get some of those round, multicolored label sheets (just search "round color labels"...most office supply stores have them) and have Teagan help you make silly faces on them...or just draw pictures or phrases.

I hope this new system works for you...good luck! :)

Mary Ellen said...

Hey, I want a sticker. Stickers are fun fun fun!

Boozy Tooth said...

Hats off to you Liz. Stickers = organization, and that's hard when you have so much going on - but - if Teagan responds, that's your answer. Honestly, I admire you so much. WHERE do you get all your energy woman??!

Eternal Lizdom said...

I'll tell you, Alix, I crash hard at the end of the day. Jeff is out of town right now so I've handled the evening on my own (well, with some dinner help from Christy) and am exhausted right now!

KPCL Girl said...

Sticker charts have worked very well at our house for things I want to establish as a routine--such as making the bed, proper morning hygiene, home reinforcement for good days at school. They've been very successful.

Garret said...

Stickers? I'd get NONE. Poor me.


Anonymous said...

Stickers worked awesome for one of the kids I was a nanny for, he really thrived with that kind of chart! Hopefully this helps T!


mimbles said...

I had lots of success with sticker charts with my 3. As we used them less often I kept buying more stickers out of habit, now, several years down the track, I still have a huge stash of them :)