This blog post started as a comment on Unwritten’s post titled Kids and rewards. She’s not keen on sticker charts- recommended by a shrink- because she doesn’t want her children to be taught that they will be rewarded for everything they do.
Here’s my take on them.
Star charts (AKA reward charts or sticker charts) for children diagnosed with AD/HD are not about rewarding behaviour, they’re about encouraging the correct behaviour.
In essence they should be aimed at behaviours that can not be timed – not arguing when sitting down to do homework, brushing your teeth without being told, and so on. Once the behaviour is achieved, its no longer rewarded and a new point goes onto the chart.
Here are some tips from “The Manual That Never Came With Your Child“:
~Each behaviour should have a 3 week target (which is how long it takes to form a habit) and each chart should focus on only one or two behaviours.
~Negotiate the rewards up front so its clear to everyone.
~A sticker must only be put on the chart for achieving the complete criteria, and if there are tears or an argument when no sticker has been earned, turn it into a lesson about putting your emotions into words.
~Using numbered squares instead of day names (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, with the reward on 5) means you can start on any day of the week, and missing a day doesn’t leave a gap on the chart- gaps can lead to anxiety about under achieving.
Also consider putting the chart where you can all see it, but not where all his friends may see it and perhaps make fun of it.
Sticker charts can be successful for a child diagnosed with AD/HD, if they are consistently managed by that child’s parents. Forgetting the sticker or the reward, or putting it off, defeats the object of the chart and this is often the biggest reason they don’t work.
As with many aspects of raising a child with AD/HD, consistency is the key.