Our Good Deeds Chart: Encouraging Positive Behavior in Kids

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Towards the end of the school year, I started to struggle with my kids' "naughty" behaviors. They were constantly "fresh talking" to me, they were heavily engaged in "selective hearing", and they were having way too many afternoon meltdowns. To be honest, I was at my wits end. I thought I was losing my mind – and I'm pretty sure my kids thought they were losing it too. Sadly, with all of this chaos flying around, I turned into a "Horrible Mommy" who "Did Nothing But Yell" and was "Always Mean" to her kids. To hear my children say that about me broke my heart, especially because I didn't see it happening until it was almost too late.

 

As a mom, I find that I often struggle between knowing what is right and what is wrong – and as much as I'd love to say that I'm a Super Star Mom, I'm not. I have my good days, but I also have my fair share of the "Oh my God, did I really just do that?!" days where I'm ashamed of the way that I've handled a situation. However, these "Horrible Mommy" moments are important to me because they remind me that I am only human; as such, I am open to making mistakes, and as long as I learn something from them, I'm okay with it.

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After my children pointed out that my husband and I were spending more time yelling than praising them, I knew we needed to change – FAST – which is how we came to our idea for the "Good Deeds Chart". There was no real hard science behind it, we just knew that we needed to stop the yelling. So we decided that if we focused on the positive things our children were doing instead of only pointing out the "bad" things they were doing, our family would be able to get back on track.

 

The rules were pretty simple. When you do good things, you get stickers. And when you fill up your chart with stickers, you get to decide what our family does for an entire day. No strings attached (unless you're asking someone to eat something that would make them throw up). Oh, and the most important rule was: once a sticker had been earned, it could never-ever be taken away as a punishment for a not-so-desirable behavior.

GoodDeedsChart, www.weknowstuff.us.com
Filling in the last sticker…

The kids were pretty psyched at the idea of being able to "rule the family for one whole day", so we set about making our sticker charts. I'd love to say that they were gloriously crafted, Pinterest-worthy charts, but that would be lying. Like I said a few moments ago, we needed to stop the yelling ASAP, so I asked the kids to pick out a piece of construction paper and decorate the top of it with stickers. Then I made a bunch of boxes on each chart – and taped it to the wall – under a picture that my daughter drew of her and her brother. That's it – and a new system was in place.

 

The kids only earned stickers for "good deeds" and only if they were genuine and from the heart. Stickers could be earned for helping Dad carry in the garbage pails (without being asked), playing nicely with each other, being kind to people, feeding the dogs or brushing the cat…the list goes on. They had many boxes to fill – I think it was 30 – but our kids get up at 6:30 AM and don't hit the sack until 7:30 PM, so they really needed to earn their 13 hours of fun!

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Part of my son's "Special Day" included a paddle boat ride!

Now this hasn't solved all of our problems – nor was it meant to. It was just meant to help my husband and I be better, more sensitive parents to our growing children's needs, wants and emotions. It was also meant to help our children re-evaluate the type of person they wanted to be. And we all learned that if paid very close attention to what our hearts and guts were saying, we'd almost always make the better choice.

 

Now, instead of being angry, I focus on how good they are and just watch the amount of stickers grow. And when they're naughty, I look at the chart too – to remind myself that their little minds and emotions are growing. Breakdowns, fresh talking and selective hearing are all par for the course of parenting – and they're not attacks on me, as a parent. It's just that my children are not equipped yet to express themselves as adults – nor should they be – not for many, many years.

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Part of our daughter's "Special Day" included a trip
to Build-A-Bear with her cousins.

As I continue to babble, I'm proud to note that both of my children earned their "Special Days" this over the summer. Our son earned his first, and only a screenshot of my Facebook page could truly show how proud we were:

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To see him so proud of his accomplishment was all I needed to know that we are on a better track for improving our parenting skills. We know that not every day is going to be perfect, but that's okay. As a family, we will continue to wade the murky waters of growing up and simply do the best we can – always knowing that we love and respect one another – in both our accomplishments and our failures.

 

Go hug your kids, Denine

 

P.S. In the spirit of being truthful, our daughter's "Special Day" was full of hits and misses, mostly because she finished hers the day before we left for my husband's Ironman Mont Tremblant race and we were very stressed, but also because she's two years younger, and it was a very long (and exciting) day. :)

Dooba

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Comments

  1. says

    It is a wonderful thing to teach kids positive behavior and I think it is equally important to teach them that it is ok to laugh at them selfs when they act “funky”. When my kids act up I ask them ” who’s kid are you? ” and they don’t like it, but they end up laughing at the way they are acting in the moment.

  2. says

    I love this. I sometimes catch myself, realizing that I am being more negative than positive, in the hopes of directing behavior. But then I realize I’m helping to create the negative atmosphere. So I work hard to add more smiles, hugs and laughter.

  3. says

    I’ve been guilty of bad mommy moments myself. Your chart is a great way to enforce good behavior. My kids are a little older so I’m trying to figure out how I could do something age appropriate for them. They’re out of the sticker stage.

  4. says

    Good for you. It is hard at times to reach out and find the positive in a stressful situation – especially when it comes to bad behavior from our children. I too used positive reinforcement, both in our home and at school. Keep going and find the positive in it all – you will be glad to be able to look back one day and see the effort you made to help your kids.

  5. says

    I agree with DeDe@DesignedDecor…good for you! Parenting is tough. We do the best we can. And since you are caring parents I’m sure you’re doing a fine job. Mine are 23, 21, and 17. We didn’t do everything perfectly…far from it, but they are good people.

  6. says

    It’s great that, as parents, you saw the need for something to change. I like the idea that once a sticker is earned, it can’t be taken away.

    I think having a child plan the entire day (do you have a monetary limit?) is a bit much. Maybe a choice of a special outing. Also, how long do you see your family doing this?

    Again, kudos for being proactive in bettering your family!

  7. says

    Wonderful suggestions! I am having the same issues with my 2 year old. I have a hard time bargaining and negotiating with her but often times praises rather than yelling goes a long way. Thanks for sharing!

  8. says

    What a great idea…I need to do something like this with my kids–too much negativity around here. Although I don’t know if I could reward them with a whole day of their choice! You’re brave!

  9. says

    Parenting is hard. I have my bad moments too and I know that yelling doesn’t make the situation any better. I recently started a similar chart where my kids get stars for helping with various chores around the house and it really makes my oldest son feel like he’s accomplishing something when he sees the stars add up and gets a trip to Monkey Joe’s or something else that’s fun.

  10. says

    I agree, hug your kids — they grow too fast, and sometimes giving them a hug really just refocuses us on the important things. (I’ve got four, I can remember some days that seemed more stress and yelling than anything else, it happens!) Great post!

  11. says

    What a wonderful idea. Looks like it was a success and your children had lots of opportunities to get positive reactions from their mom and dad.

    This post is a great reminder that positive reinforcement can really help shape how kids feel not only about themselves but others too.

  12. says

    Well, I don’t have kids but I wonder if this would work on husbands LOL! Actually, I’m serious here. Maybe if we paid more attention to focusing on the positives, instead of pointing out the negatives, more areas of our life would seem less stressful. And we’d probably be a lot more pleasant to deal with :)

  13. says

    Several months ago, I embarked on a journey to “rule out negativity” and “embrace positivity.” It’s working with Hubby, the Adult Children, The Teenage Grands, and even the four-year-old granddaughter. Though, I must admit this is “still a work in progress.” But I believe, consistency on my part, will make the difference. Thank you for sharing.

  14. says

    This is a great post. My children are past “sticker charts” now (they are 9, 11, 13, 15, 17 & 19), but we are continually trying to find things that will work to motivate them and to teach them to be good people.

    It’s nice to see that others are still trying to teach good principles. There are too many parents out there that aren’t taking the responsibility to teach their children today.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  15. says

    What a great way to focus on the positive, I catch myself being a snappy mom and its not the type of parent I want to be. Love the idea of the chart and the kiddies planning their own special day. My son would probably pick a whole day at Chuck E. Cheese which is hell on earth for me.

  16. says

    It’s a good thing that you knew that you have to press the stop button and use a different approach in taking good care of your kids! They will grow happy and full of love.

  17. says

    I love this idea! It seems we get too caught up in making them listen and sometimes need reminders like this to help us remember they need praise too! My 11 month old already thrives on praise!

  18. says

    This is such a great idea. I read a book called Desperate over the summer and realized I am way too hard on my kids. I have really been praying to calm down and focus on the many wonderful things about them and it’s been so much better!
    And I also love that you don’t take stickers away. A great idea that I am sure encourages them even more! Way to go!

  19. says

    This is a really great idea and really great reminder to focus on the positive. It also sounds like your kids are pretty good at planning special days!!

  20. says

    Yes, I agree with positive reinforcement for children. I think as Moms we just need to know our kids and use methods we know will work for them. My daughter loves prizes so charts are great for her. Charts are also great for goal setting. They start and complete a goal of being obedient. Great start!

  21. says

    I’m also a mom who is needs to work on being more positive. I have good kids and need to let them know that more! What a great idea and I’m going to look into setting some positive enforcements!

  22. says

    That’s a great idea! My kids are older though and they know that if they misbehave, they will be grounded. But it would have been great if I had though of that when they were little :)

  23. says

    I LOVE this idea!! I have three boys – 8,6 and 2 – and I feel like there are days that all I do is yell too! I think it’s a fabulous idea to focus on positive behavior rather than always the negative behavior. I might need to steal this idea! :)

  24. says

    I think that’s one of the hardest things to do when you’re “in the moment” My sister and I often refer to our yelling as “Adult Temper Tantrums”. :) If we can’t be calm, how can we expect them to be calm? Stickers are fun. Stickers are happy. So, it’s working. lol. :)

  25. says

    Yes, being tired is always a major trigger for me – and them!! We try to stick to routines, especially on school days, so we all know what’s coming next. Sometimes, if I’m really shot, I just go to bed when hey do! ;)

  26. says

    I love this idea. Especially at the end of the school year the kids are antsy and ready to be out of school, tensions always run high, at least they do at my house. It’s so easy to fall into bad habits of reacting to situations instead of actively parenting. I love your great reminder to focus on the positive! Such great advice for everything we do, especially for our kids. I love that you let your kids pick their activities, that just makes it that much more rewarding! Thanks darlin’! Krista @ A Handful of Everything

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