Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Behold the Power of a Star Chart

The Star Chart! 
At the tender ages of 5 and 7, we're finally out of the potty-training, help-feeding, dress-you, do-everything-for-you stage that is baby and toddlerhood. And we're onto teaching these two girls how to be functioning humans, capable of taking care of themselves. (I'm a big proponent of teaching the concept of independence as early as possible.)

To that end, we've been using a Star Chart for the last month or so and have seen some pretty good results, so I thought I'd share.

Our chart is less about disciplining bad behavior (we did that last year) and more focused on nurturing good habits. Habits, after all, are formed by doing something 12 times, unless you're under age 10, then that number is more like 1,200.

Our categories include: Brushing teeth, and hair. Make your bed. Dirty clothes in the basket. Tidy your own room. etc. Pretty simple daily habits most adults follow.

My end game here is to reduce my nagging.  This script is getting annoying even to me: "time to brush your teeth!" "did you brush your teeth?" "will you brush your teeth, please?" "why haven't you brushed your teeth yet?" in increasing ire.

But be warned, dear parent, that maintaining this chart is just as much work for YOU. You have to award that star immediately, otherwise who cares?! You also have to follow-through on the "reward" quickly after the milestone is reached. And withhold the reward if they don't earn enough stars (boo). If you're not updating the chart daily, it's meaningless.

So, here are a few Star Chart tips:

  • Put the chart in a high-traffic area, but in a place where just any nosey visitor can view it. Ours is just outside their bathroom, where most of the tasks take place.
  • Put it low enough so the kid can add their own star. Leah loves to do that. 
  • Help them count their stars whenever they want. Leah does quick math to figure out how many she has left to earn. And she helps Alice do the same.
  • STAY FIRM on your rewards. 
  • Be creative about the reward. They love the trip to the toy store, but we've thrown around book store, show for their Kindle, song on their (our) ipod, movie, trip to paint pottery, etc. 
  • Repeat and reinforce why they are getting this new toy/show/trip. They "earned" it. They worked hard for it. Or, if they didn't, "you'll do better next week." You get the idea. 
  • For the first week, I made certificate/coupons and they showed them to the clerk at the store. But I don't have the time to do that every week. Sigh.
  • Have fun with it! Sheesh! 
Someday, this will turn into a "Chore Chart" and we'll move into an allowance system. But for now, good habits are the name of the game. 

Oh, and they insisted on including me on their chart (in red) and I always earn my goal. ;) 

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