Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Monday, November 28, 2011
The Star Chart
This is an idea that came together with my teaching background and other parenting books that talk about positive discipline methods. In a nutshell, a child is rewarded with a star for positive behavior. Then they cash them in for earned privileges like staying up later, watching more TV, or earning extra money.
So the next question might be, how does a child earn a star? Well, I set up a list of chores that were age appropriate for my kids and explained to them that if they finished the job well and without complaining, they would earn a star. For our star chart, one star is worth less than ten minutes of work. (Note: This is not based on how long they actually take to do it, but how long you think it should take to be done correctly. A child can take a five minute task and turn it into thirty. Therefore, the task is still only worth one star.) An example would be sweeping the kitchen floor. Anything more than ten minutes of work, I give two stars. An example of this would be doing laundry. If they end up working hard helping you with something, feel free to give more. When our kids help out with yard work, cleaning the cars, spring cleaning or things similar to that, I will give them more stars. We just put those under a miscellaneous column.
Refer to the previous post for an example of how you might set up your own star chart. With our own, I use the star symbol for all of the children. However, they each have their own color. I’ll cover the “allowances” part later, but it is included on the chart for a purpose.
I left a few blank rows so that once a row is filled up, you can use another row rather than having to recreate the chart. Also, you’ll use numbers under the stars. I put the date under them to help me remember if I have rewarded the child for each task they have completed. Plus, this allows the child to keep tabs too. Once the star is cashed in, it is circled. A star chart can be used for several months if made large enough. Now you have a way of keeping track of how efficient they are being with their chores.
You can alter the chart to have anything on it. Our main categories were dishes, floor (for the kitchen), trash, cat box, table (for the kitchen), special (anything that is not covered by the other categories - shoveling snow, weeding the garden, etc.), laundry, and recycling. You may have other chores that you do on a regular basis. Include those too. If done regularly, like on a weekly basis, I would give it it’s own category. When you have exhausted that category, start a new row with one of the original empty ones.
When using the “special” category, you can also decide what they can earn for their stars. They may be helpful in the kitchen and you want to reward them for not having to be asked. You may see them doing a thorough job without having to be reminded of what is expected of them. You can reward them by doubling the stars if they do their chores without complaining. However, be careful to use these infrequently as to surprise them and so they do not expect a reward every time they do what is normally required of them.
The idea is for you to adapt a chart to meet your family needs. Be flexible and creative when designing it. Make it colorful with markers, stickers, glitter glue etc. Let the kids help you make it. It should look more kid friendly than professionally made. Have the kids pick out what color should represent them. This should be something that represents the kids in the family in a fun way.
The most important thing is to be consistent with it. If a child does not see you honoring your word by giving them the stars or if you fail to take them when they have cashed them in, the system will not work. When they ask to cash in stars, have them watch you circle them. When you give them stars, have them watch you put them on the star chart. This lets them know you mean what you say. In addition, count their stars often so they can see the fluctuation of cashing in and earning the stars.
Here are some guidelines I have with our star chart. The child needs to be at least five years old to use this. It is hard for a smaller child to understand delayed gratification with cashing in the stars. They do not understand the concept of working hard during the week so they can stay up a little extra on the weekend. Plus, you can use the delayed privilege method to work on building trust to carry out the responsibilities on the chart. Use anticipation to help them be eager about being added to the star chart on their fifth birthday. If you build it up, they will be excited to do their chores once they have obtained the privilege to do so.
On the other extreme, a child is too mature for the star chart when they become a teenager. By the age of thirteen, you will have an ample supply of rewards and punishments to use with them. The rewards they will now receive will be earned with your trust which cannot be calculated with stars and cashed in for extra money or privileges.
Now that you know how to set a star chart up, I want to share some rules we use with ours:
-Stars are not given for sloppy work.
-Chores are given a plentiful time limit, but once outside that time limit, the star is no longer given. At that point I give them the star, but immediately circle it. It is logged that they did the chore and cashed in because they took too long.
-If a child hurts a sibling or their belongings, they can use stars to pay retribution. For this, I use the offended child’s pen to circle the offender’s star and put the offended child’s mark on top ready for cash in. This also allows for you to see if there is a pattern in offensive behavior.
-Chores can be changed from child to child, especially as they earn the privilege to do more chores. The different colors or symbols keep track of who had the last turn.
-Sometimes our children have to do chores for each other. The child who was supposed to initially do the chore still receives the star.
-We require that our kids keep at least a ten star balance when they cash in their stars. This ensures that they have enough to pay for privileges or offenses before they have the opportunity to earn more.
-If a child runs out of stars, they cannot pay for their privileges and therefore cannot use them. This is where consistency is key. Only let them have what they have truly earned. In addition, if they are out of stars, but have an offense, they must now pay with their money one quarter for every star they do not have.
Again, this chart can be adapted and changed in any way to meet the needs of your family. It does not have to be exactly like this. The only MUST is consistency with whatever system you use.
More discipline techniques to follow... Amen! ; )
Mike and Melissa