Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Goal Chart: How I Inspired My Kid to Behave

I am a slow crafter. It takes me a significant amount of time to complete any craft, in part because I do not have a designated craft area and am hauling this stuff out each time I want to use it....but also because I rarely craft. I hate to admit it! There are so many things I want to make, and can make, with time. Lots and lots of time.

So with that, please allow me to share last night's Craft of the Year: Big Girl's Goal Chart!

Inspiration: If you type "chore chart" into Pinterest, you'll be granted unlimited access to some of the most beautiful, at-home, DIY chore charts for kids. Goal charts, however, are hard to come by. I've found focusing on goals, as opposed to chores, is more beneficial as it knocks out two objectives:

1. The kid is held accountable for the maintenance of critical life skills
2. The kid still cleans (a "responsibility" goal would encompass cleaning up)

Motivation: Summer Big Girl makes Mommy yell, pull hair out, and drink wine like a banshee....and bald Mommy is tired of yelling.

Disclaimer: The execution of the completed goal chart requires significant effort, follow-through, and, if you have another parent in the house, teamwork. Aaron and I discussed the chart prior to presenting it to our big girl to ensure we're on the same page. Sticking to the chart and remaining 100% dedicated to consistency is the only way this chart (or anything else) will ever be effective with kids. But don't worry. I truly am a lazy ball of goo after a long day and consequently, created this chart system so it requires the least amount of work possible from a parenting perspective.

Part I: Identify Your Goals
Think about what is making you crazy. Now think about what caused the craziness. Now think about what can be done to squash what caused the craziness. You've got yourself a goal! I chose 8 goals and really tried to focus on long-term application. I didn't want to put things like, "clean your room, stop screaming in the house, don't ask for more toys every day"....I wanted instead to use things she could carry with her into her teenage years and beyond. Identifying goals can be challenging; I want to be gentle, yet firm, simple, yet encompassing. Try and match your most recent parenting struggles with some real, genuine values.

Part II: Make the Chart!
This is the fun part :)

 I found an old bulletin board in my basement that worked perfect for this project. A $5 pad of cardstock, some $2 multicolored notecards, a $9 package of Sharpies (splurge), and some scissors is all you need.

 WalMart sells $5 cardstock packages in multiple colors, textures, and thickness. Uhhhh, they had me at $5. Do it.

I needed three colors, one for each level of compliance (you'll see later). These notecards were way cheaper than PostIts but serve the same function. I will be using pushpins, but you could also use magnets or even tape, depending on your chart material.

I never have a Sharpie when I need one and now, well now I have pretty colors :)

This was my goal "sketch." My big girl is 7 years old and pretty good at reading; 8 goals is appropriate for her comprehension level. You can change the number, type, and complexity of goals based on your needs.

My little helper :) I'd told her earlier in the day she would be doing a project with Mommy after Annabelle went to sleep...she was thrilled the entire day. It really put a positive spin on something that could potentially be viewed as restricting or negative.

:) Such a good helper :)

I created three goal compliance levels: Great, OK, or Needs Some Work. She is assigned a smiley at the end of every day for each of her eight goals. I reserve the right to assign a smiley at any point throughout the day (amazingly good or bad behavior, for example, may lead me to put a "Great" or "Needs Some Work" smiley on the board immediately). What warrants an "Ok" or "Needs Some Work" smiley? It depends on the infraction, setting, attitude, and generally how I feel at the moment.

Yep, if I'm in a crappy mood, she will feel the burn. My reasoning is this: If I am having a terrible day, and say so to my big girl (I'm very vocal), she should correctly assume that pushing Mommy's buttons will most likely result in less tolerance. I use this people-reading skill at my workplace every single day. Learning to read others and react accordingly is important. I try to always be consistent, but when push comes to shove, real life can toss some curveballs. I want her to be capable of knocking the unexpected out of the park :)

 The goal chart allows her earn things with good behavior (positive reinforcement). She has three reward levels. For each day she gets all "Great" smiles, she gets to put one smile card in a reward pouch of her choice. In the event she goes an entire week with all "Great" smiles, she gets a bonus of SEVEN smiles to place in pouches (14 total! for each day, then the seven bonus smiles). Again, my kid is older and capable of following this system. You could eliminate the bonus smiles, narrow it down to one reward pouch, whatever you want to do for your kid.

Side Note: I do not separately penalize her for getting a day full of "Ok" or "Needs Some Work" smileys...she is always punished right away for anything serious enough to deserve some serious discipline (WHACK! just kidding :) We ground her and take away privileges).

These are examples of the rewards she can earn with her smileys. As you can see, the primary reward level (Cupcake) requires no effort on my part and gives her instant gratification. The secondary reward level (Pie) requires me to sacrifice only my time and can occur within a few days. The tertiary reward level (Layer Cake) requires my time and money, needs to be planned in advance, and can only happen once per month. It is also the hardest to attain. She would need to earn all "Great" smileys for two solid weeks and bypass the temptation of easier, more instant rewards to earn this third-level reward each month. See? Lazy mom, at your service.

Some of the goals were new to her. She had no idea what "situational awareness" meant. I created this cheat sheet with kid-friendly catch phrases and reminders for her to reference whenever she wanted.

This is what the chart will potentially look like at the end of a week. I placed the goals to the left, the days of the week along the top, and a grid of smileys in chaotic little rows.

I chose a spot close to her room near our hallway. We don't get too much visitor traffic in this region, but she sees it as soon as she exits her room. I placed the reward pouches along the top, the smiley pouches along the right-hand side, and the reminder sheet in the upper right-hand corner.

The finished product!
Thank you so much for reading and I welcome any questions you have about the Goal Chart. Do any of you use a chart like this? Has it worked for you? I could see a chart like this being useful for adults, as well. I could stand to practice a few life values myself!
Happy Independence Day everyone! :)

1 comment:

  1. Number one I love that you are an authentic person and can say your daughter is a punk!! That is why I love you. Number two you are the most creative person and think things through so completely. When you are famous I will need to remember this so I can use it on my little baby when she is Anya's age!!