We would all like to have well-behaved children I think. Goodness knows we spend half of our time telling them what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour don’t we? I know I do!
I think we have tried most forms of bribery to encourage the positive behaviour.
We eventually tried the reward chart. Lots of boxes, and even more stickers, with the promise of something should they managed to get to the end. My children found it too restrictive. We ended up with so many if buts and maybes, that I was just as confused as they were, and to be honest, I was quite happy when they just didnt want to put their stickers up any more.
Over the summer holidays, one of our main focuses was to work on the boys tolerating each others company without wanting to do the other one major harm. It was a lofty goal, but we needed some way of making it fun for them. I was therefore really happy to be given the opportunity to try a different type of reward chart.
I was asked to look at the reward charts on offer from a company offering Radical Reward Charts – http://www.radicalrewardcharts.com/. Now, I thought, there can’t possibly be anything new about a reward chart, but these certainly are. These are beautifully designed posters that have numbered stages from 1 -20. I like the idea of not having a predetermined behaviour written down that has boundaries, instead, this opens up the opportunity for dialogue with your child about how they believe they achieved (or not) a desired task. Straight away I liked the idea.
The website suggests you let your child choose the chart they would like. Engaging them from the onset means they want to use the chart when it arrives – or that’s the theory. The designs are brilliant. There are no cartoon characters or pop bands, these are pictures based of the world around them. Grungy Garden begins deep underground and travels through insects and fossils, to plants and birds. Wacky Wildlife has forest wildlife with deer, and owls. Reedy River is fish, and birds. Orrible Ocean is creatures of the reef, with some beautiful fish, and some scary ones too. Creepy Crawlies is just what is says with insects galore. Finally there is Gruesome Graveyard with its skeletons, and creepy night time creatures. Even if not used as a reward chart, the quality of the pictures is amazing. They measure 30cm wide x 84cm tall, so they are big enough to make an impact and not get lost as just something else stuck on the fridge. The boys of course decided it had to be the Gruesome Graveyard for them. I wasn’t in the least bit surprised by their choice! You then have a choice of how, or rather who you want to make the journey along the chart. If you upload a photo of your child, they will make it into the marker for you, otherwise there is the lovely Mr Carrot figure. We went for the Mr Carrot as I thought the idea of moving themselves might actually add a friction to something I wanted to help remove it!
That all decided, we placed our order. You can have your chart sent rolled in a tube, or folded to A4 size. Ours came folded, and to be honest, it had no impact on the use of it. It only took a couple of days to arrive, but I imagine if you are going for the customized marker it may take a little longer.
We put it up on the living room door with some sticky tac, so it was visible all the time. We sat down and talked about what we would be using the chart to achieve, and the boys were happy with the idea. As it was a major behavioural thing we were working on, we let the boys choose a big reward for when they got to number 20. they chose pizza.
I then instantly saw something amazing happen. The boys sat down together on the passage floor and talked to each other about the things on the chart. They discussed the various elements for what seemed the longest time. At that point I thought if nothing else is achieved, this is amazing!!!!! This is what the beautiful graphics can achieve.
We used the chart slightly differently from the ideas offered with it. It was all about positive motivation of course, and that was paramount, but we were using it for both of them together. They weren’t making separate journeys up the chart, they were working together. We split the day into two times, before and after tea so they had the potential to gain 2 spaces each day – we did this because when they become tired, they become niggly and that is when a lot of nastiness between them is seen. Some days they did move their two spaces, others one or even none, but they were excited about using the chart. When M said could they have a carrot, he wasn’t being healthy, but he believed they had been friendly!
I have felt it gives a far greater scope for dialogue than a tradition chart. We have been able to sit and discuss the merits of the behaviour and if it had earned a carrot. It meant the boys were actually thinking about why they had done certain things and the consequences involved.
They were so happy when they did reach number 20. You’d have thought they had won the lottery but I think pizza is the next best thing. They instantly moved the carrot back down to start again (we have the same goal but slightly different slant on it now they are back to school)!
These are beautifully designed and produced charts. Calling them just a reward chart though seems to take something away from them. They have a practical purpose, but they are something the boys enjoyed looking at and working with.
At £14, they are an investment, but the quality is there, and they can be used over and over, as my boys demonstrated by wanting to begin their journey immediately they had finished.
I was asked to take a look at this and try it, and now I have, I can only say they are great. I don’t suddenly have well-behaved children, but I have ones that have been thinking about their behaviour a little more openly than they would have done without earning that carrot. I would therefore strongly recommend them.