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Accentuate The Positives!

So many times, I find myself focusing on my son’s faults in regards to school – rushing through work, needing to read a bit more, get that homework done and correct the ones that I’ve checked.  It is equally, if not more, important to let our children know what they are doing that is AWESOME in school.  Try some of these activities to make sure your budding einstein gets the recognition he or she deserves!

  1. Frame It!  I bought an inexpensive frame at the discount store (less than $3) that will hold most papers my third grader brings home ( a 9 x 12 frame works well).  Anytime my son brings home work that he is exceptionally proud of, whether it is a test, a written assignment, an art project, whatever, it goes in the frame.  We display this on the counter in our kitchen and rotate the pieces through as he sees fit.  It is a great way for Dad to catch up with the good stuff from school!
  2. Showcase It On the Computer!  Going a step beyond the framable work, I will take pictures from time to time of my children with their proudest work.  When I upload the picture to my computer, I save it as my backdrop.  It is a great visual reminder when I sit down to work at how amazing my children are.
  3. Get The Family Involved!  Nothing feels quite as good has having a family member tell you how proud they are of you, so give that gift to your child.  Have grandparents, aunts, uncles, or even neighbors comment on your child’s successes.  Sometimes, it can feel a bit more special when it comes from someone other than “just” mom or dad!
  4. Hang It High!  Create your own personalized magnets by simply mounting a photo of your child on cardboard or posterboard.  Cut around your child’s outline and glue this to a clothespin.  Attach a magnet to the other side of the clothespin, and use this awesome little display tool to hold report cards, important papers or awards won on the refrigerator!
  5. Celebrate Over Breakfast!  When my boys do something exceptionally outstanding, such as participating in a class play or making good grades on a report card, we celebrate with breakfast out.  The kids get to decide where we’ll eat, and we enjoy some family time before we all start our busy days.

Do you have any ideas to share?  Leave a comment and let us know!

Incentive Charts

Last week, I mentioned monitoring my child’s progress through an incentive chart to achieve a certain goal – staying in bed for my older son and potty training with my younger one.  Incentive charts can be a useful tool for teaching a child a new skill or desired repeatable behavior, from picking up toys to folding clothes to clearing the table without being asked.  The key is consistency.

Charts are fairly simple to make.  With my boys, I created a simple grid for each of them.  The “title” of the grid was simply the desired behavior, such as staying in bed all night.  Then, I created a grid of ten rows, five columns.  Our charts hung on the side of the refrigerator, right at my son’s eye level.  This way, each child was able to view his chart and participate by putting a sticker in a box each time a the behavior was met.

Each time my son met his goal, he was given a sticker to place on his chart.  By the time he filled a row (in this case, five days), he was rewarded with a simple incentive.  Sometimes, it was a special trip to the Dollar Store.  Other times, it was a special playdate or an outing to the bowling alley or movie theater.  There was always a reward at the end of the “row”, though. 

In the beginning, it took my son well over a week to get his five stickers.  That was okay, though, because once he reached his fifth sticker, he was very excited to get his reward!  And, when he realized how simple it was to achieve that again, the desired behavior showed up more and more frequently, quickly becoming a natural habit.

When we finally filled the chart, we came up with a special reward.  In my son’s case, it was a sleepover at his grandparents’ house.  At the time, he had never been to their house to spend the night without my husband or I, so this was a GREAT reward for him.  And, by the time he reached that goal, sleeping in his own bed through the night was no longer an issue.

Using an incentive chart can work very well for children.  Keep in mind, though, that the focus should only be on one behavior at a time.  Trying to run two or more incentive charts for a child at a time can be overwhelming and confusing.  Once a behavior is mastered, then introduce a new one.  And, once a child finishes an incentive chart, move on to simply verbally praising him or her for their new skill.

Incentive charts are a great way to achieve a goal for a child!

Catch ‘Em Being Good!

For the past week or two, I’ve published little snippets of discipline strategies as ideas or even reminders for us all.  With summer here (and school out), I’ve found myself needing to re-evaluate our “game plan” at home and set some ground rules.  Being consistent and clear in directions, and providing meaningful and effective consequences can establish the groundwork for a good, solid relationship with your child.  It is equally important to give your child plenty of praise.  Catching them being good, and letting them know about it, can be just as effective, if not moreso than many other forms of discipline.

There are several ways to show children that their behavior is exactly what is expected.  The easiest and most direct way is simply by telling them.  “Thank you for putting your dishes in the sink” or “I like the way you cleaned up your Legos without being asked” lets the child know that their behavior is on the mark and you, as the adult, have noticed.  Children will want to hear this again and again, and so the positive behavior will repeat as often as you acknowledge it. 

In addition to verbally telling a child about their good behavior, adults can also provide a physical “reward”.  Hugs, a pat on the back, high-fives or even a nudge can be just the thing to let a child know they’ve done the right thing.  In our house, these work especially well with our eight year-old, who doesn’t necessarily want to bring the attention of others to how proud his mom is!  We have a secret “squeeze” that we share when I want to compliment him, yet I don’t want to completely embarrass him in front of his pals.

It is okay to reward your child with other things as well.  Perhaps a walk together through the neighborhood, reading a book together, or even taking a special outing is just the way to show how proud you are of your child.  If your child spent the afternoon cleaning their room, why not enjoy it together with a board game (now that the floor is clean!) or a book together?

And, while material rewards shouldn’t be used all the time, they can be beneficial, especially when a new behavior is being learned.  Our three year-old has struggled with himself over potty training until we introduced Pez.  While I’m not big on food as a reward, the cute dispensers are perfect for him, and he only takes one candy per potty-trip.  It has been a HUGE incentive to getting him on track in the bathroom!  Another idea might be to keep a chart of successes, and when a behavior has been achieved a certain number of times, the child can earn a small toy or special treat.  Our older son had a hard time learning to stay in bed, so we kept a bedtime chart.  Each night that he stayed in his bed, he earned a sticker on his chart.  After ten stickers, he was rewarded with a trip to the Dollar Store, and after 100, we bought him an extra-special toy.  By then, the behavior of staying in bed had been learned and we were ALL much happier!

Look for the good in your child and let them know about it.  Praising a child for their good behavior is a great way to reinforce things you want to see in them again!

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