It’s been two weeks since we had our chat with Noah. And for the most part I have to say things have been really good. We have been making a concerted effort to check in with him and make sure we are giving him the right kind of attention. His attitude and response to these small changes has been quite eye-opening and we have realised how small changes really do go a long way.
Saying that, we also realised that we needed to be more consistent with our discipline and find a way to get our children in a good routine of listening well and just being respectful and mindful kids. It’s been a bit of a disruptive time with a new baby and often routines and expectations get cast aside only to make room for unnecessary chaos. And before we know it, things escalate to the point of insanity and we lose all sense of order and calm.
I sat in bed one night after a particularly rough day of shouting and moaning and with kids going to bed crying and I thought “I can’t do this anymore! I can’t feel like this at the end of every day. I can’t feel like a shouty mom, I don’t WANT to be a shouty mom!” But what were we going to do to regain a sense of order in our home and work calmly as a team? I sure as hell had hit rick bottom with the usual approach of threatened time-outs and hidings. I needed my kids to want to do better, even if that meant starting with something that incentivised them to try.
You see as much as I sat there thinking they needed to have a change of heart first, I realised that they are probably too little to properly care the way I expected them to. For instance, it’s not really important for them to take their plate to the sink after they have eaten or to tidy their rooms. It’s high on my list of priorities, but they don’t share my same sense of urgency when it comes to these things. And like with most things like this, sometimes we need to change the behaviour first before we start working on deeper issues of the heart. I needed to come up with something that was going to turn bad habits into good ones and incentivise each child accordingly.
So we created STAR CHARTS!! Now I know why you thinking, WHAT’S new? What’s so mind-blowingly inventive about the good old-fashioned start chart? Well, nothing really. Except you see we have made specific ones for each child. Things that are directly related to their own personal struggles. We had tried these in the past and made quite generic ones for both kids but i realised that they are at different levels both emotionally and developmentally. I can’t expect the same things from each child.
How it works:
Each of them have about 10 different ‘categories’ for which they are required to work towards getting stars. The majority of these things are for specific practical things they need to complete during the day. And each of these practical things run in order of how their days unfold. So starting from the moment they wake up to the time they go bed. So Noah’s categories are as such: Getting ready for school in timely manner (getting dressed, eating breakfast and brushing teeth), unpacking his school bag and changing out of his uniform when he gets home (making sure he has a clean one for the next day), Playing nicely with his brother and being kind, Listening first time and not arguing with Mom and dad, Doing his chores and being helpful, Tidying up after himself, Eating dinner with no complaining and Brushing teeth and going to bed with no moaning.
Brody’s are slightly different: Getting ready for school and taking his bowl to the kitchen, Not moaning or tittle-tailing (Is it just a phase?? My gosh!), Being kind to Noah, Listening to mom first time, Tidying his room, Eating supper with no complaints and Brushing teeth and going to bed without crying.
They are both generally good at going to bed but lately its a game of “one more hug, one more sip of water, one more one more!” And while I really do like to place lots of emphasis on being kind, this star chart system is really more about the practical things and getting them into a flow of doing these things without having to beg and plead and rip my hair out!!
For every 10 stars they get a gold star and for every gold star they get R5. So there are two incentives there. One – to get a gold star and two ; to get R5. The stars are just as much of a treat because they really want the gold star, not the boring red and orange ones. So that in itself is a treat. And then we tally up their stars on a Saturday morning before heading to the shops. Whatever money they make they can spend – if they want bigger toys and treats, they need to save their money. (*It works out to about R25 per week IF they get a star for every category every day)
Now of course we are not complete asshole parents and we do treat our kids to other things (especially over the weekend) but this is also our way of saying “Sweets and treats are not obligatory and they need to be earned” Gone are the days of lavishing them with ice-creams and donuts and extra spoils if their behaviour has been atrocious. It’s simple, try your best to be a good kid and i will try my best to give you those fun experiences and rewards.
I hated the feeling that often crept up on me, that was raising self-entitled little brats who no matter what their behaviour was like, were constantly being spoilt and given nice things. It just seemed so backwards. And sure there’s a room for grace and spoiling your kids because you just feel like it, but those situations are few and far between. Our kids are old enough now to know what it means to earn something through good behaviour as well as what it means to reap the repercussions if there is none. And so far guys it’s working like a charm. If there is just a hint of naughty behaviour poking its head, I remind them about the chart. There’s also been a good sense of healthy competition between them, because its sucks if the other has more stars at the ned of the week!!
So if you are struggling with the same issue with your kids, you may want to rethink the old-school star chart system and tweak it specifically for your child. OR do you have something that works for you that you want to share with us? Please let us know in the comments below! ♥