This morning Abe showed me a little behavior chart in a Bernstein Bears book that he thought we might want to try. It basically listed certain behavioral offenses and what the associated punishment would be. For example: Hitting – Sweep the floor. “Sure,” I said, “We could make a chart like that for family night.” And then I began thinking just how many charts we have had during the short span of our child rearing years. There have been chore charts and posters and jars for filling with good behavior beans. There have been treat boxes and potty charts and everything in between (those last two lines totally sounded like a Dr. Sues poem. If I was feeling adventurous I'd continue this whole post in that vein, but I am not).
I don't know why we have been so fickle with our charting. They start out strong and eventually lose steam. I won't say they have done no good. They have. We have had bouts of success with various things such as trying different foods, being unselfish, finishing daily chores. Occasionally they have curbed some poor behavior before it got too out of control. But in the end, they all sit and sit unused and are eventually tossed out.
Our most recent “chart” was me saying that I was now giving them points for each time they did something (like get dressed) the first time I asked. It worked wonderfully for about two days – kids were running to brush their teeth or put away their pajamas before I could even think to ask again. Eventually, however, the fact that points were neither being recorded nor rewarded seemed to halt the momentum we'd been gaining.
Another one that faired mediocre at best was the cup for beans. Every time they were unselfish and let the other person have their way I would add a bean to the cup – when it was filled they'd get a trip to the dollar store. It too started out great with Daisy insisting Goldie sit where she wanted, and Goldie happily handing over toys to Daisy, etc. Unfortunately no one reckoned on just how many hundreds of beans it would take to ever fill that darn cup and so, about an eighth of the way full it too lost its novelty. If it was going to be ten years before the dollar store anyway, may as well selfishly get what you wanted once in awhile.
Anyway, I am totally making this new chart with my kids come Monday night. They will love it, and for about three days I am going to have some really good kids or else a whole lot of cleaning done. I love a good chart.