Thursday, March 26, 2009

More on Charts

A picture less post. Wow. What a concept!
Yesterday I posted about Ezra's success with his potty training chart. This is a follow up on that post. This is not to say that I am in any way an expert mom who knows anything about anything : ) However, I have used many a chart in my day; both as a teacher and a mom. I'm big on charts, you could say. I thought I'd just share a few words about what has worked for me in the past for those of you who might be thinking of using this method.
There are lots of different ways to chart. In my classroom I had different levels of behavior charts. Some were for the whole class and used on a daily basis. Others were specialty charts for real special students who needed some extra behavior accountability. They are more involved and take an older kid to understand them (by older, I'm talking, like 6 and up).
I've only used reward charts with Ezra. And we started small. I knew that I wanted to use charts, but wanted to start easy to see how he handled it and let him succeed quickly the first time. So, I picked "happy diaper changing". He was not quite two at the time and in that twist away and scream phase of having his diaper changed. So, every time he lay still for me on the changing table he added a sticker to a small chart that I posted right next to the changing table. The results of good behavior were visible and immediate for him. Good behavior=sticker right now. Bad behavior results were immediate too, walking away without adding a sticker and a grumpy mommy to boot : ) After a set number of stickers he got an easy prize (I'm not sure what it was). The chart worked like a charm for him.
My main goal at that point in his life was getting him to sleep alone and through the night. I wanted to work up to a chart for that. I knew I had to wait until he had a higher level of comprehension, so we waited until he was 2 1/4 and had practiced on easier tasks already. Then I moved in the big dogs. A 30-day "go to sleep by yourself and stay in your own bed" sticker reward chart. I use 30 days, because that is how long it takes to form a habit. The theory is: daily success when the sticker is placed and then long-term success when the ultimate prize is earned. Then, the habit should be formed and the behavior should continue. It worked in the sleeping case. It was one of the happiest successes of my life. Caroline was about 8 months at the time and I was soooo happy to be up with only one baby at night instead of running back and forth between two rooms. The prize was a bike, by the way. Because the stakes were so high, the prize needed to be huge.
Anyhow--that's my chart advice. In a nutshell:
~Start small--quick success
~Make sure they comprehend that behavior=reward
~The higher the stakes, the bigger the prize
~30 days to form a habit (only 2 or 3 to break one, by the way)
~Have fun!


Mike, Alice, and Hank the DOG said...

So, based on your theroy of 30 days for setting good habits, that would mean no chocolate for 30 days and I am cured??!! But 30 days is soooo long to be without chocolate.....I wonder if I could, I think not!

Brooke said...

30 days without chocolate???? THAT IS NOT a good habit : ) I don't think you should try it--I'm not sure what the results would be, but I'm thinking that it would be terrrrrrible!

NaomiG said...

Cool. I've wondered about using those, but I'm not very disciplined. :-) Perhaps I'll have to start with something easy for me, and go from there. :-)