Lock down life for many of us is very different. There are negatives such as boredom, missing relatives and friends, shopping has become a weekly mission. There are positives like having quality family time, a slower pace of life, less commitments.
Things have changed for the kids too. From being occupied with school, clubs, interests, play dates and parties they all of a sudden are in one place with the same people. Whilst the extra family time is a positive for them too, some of these people are...shock, horror....SIBLINGS!
A few parents have mentioned to me that sibling rivalry is on the rise in their homes and that whilst lock down is providing the time for families to engage in activities together, sometimes it can feel more like those activities are being survived as opposed to enjoyed! If this is you and your family right now, just know you are not alone.
Once in school, siblings are used to spending the majority of their time Mon-Fri in separate classes with their own friends and teachers. All of a sudden they're working together all of the time at home. Sounds like a recipe for fall outs to me!
I've come across a brilliant article which offers some tips to help with this - I hope they are useful.
Before we look at reward charts, its helpful to discuss types of motivation.
Extrinsic motivation means to be motivated by external rewards such as money, food, or time watching YouTube on the iPad. It’s why most of us are motivated to get out of our cozy bed and go to work every morning.
Intrinsic motivation means to be motivated by internal rewards like a sense of value/purpose, or doing a task simply because you enjoy doing it.
Reward Chart Pros:
-Good for visual learners
-Great starting point for motivation
-Helps understand what the child is most motivated by, their likes and dislikes
-Teaches responsibility and accountability
-Good practice for employment in the future
-Forming good habits
Reward Chart Cons:
-The focus is on extrinsic rather than intrinsic motivation- they will only do it if there is a “reward” involved.
-It can sometimes increase negative behaviors in certain individual. E.g "What do I get if I do that?" at every request!
-It can be difficult to maintain and keep up with
-The rewards might not motivate your child for long, so you would need to keep changing them.
A basic reward chart with stickers/ticks/tokens leading to a reward can work and be effective for a short term. It can be a good way to get out of a 'behavioural/habitual rut' and a good starting point to motivate. The key to them working is:
-a clear and specific target/way of collecting the stickers/ticks/tokens, such as 'clean your room, read for 20 minutes, say please and thank you'
-the reward is something highly motivating
-you are consistent and keep referring to it
-Use for a short period of time (2-4 weeks) to 'kickstart' a good behaviour pattern.
There are lots of free printables on twinkl: https://www.twinkl.co.uk/search?term=reward+chart
The Token Reward System
I'll start off with the health warnings:
✨This is a highly personalised system - please note that the images are just examples for an imaginary child! I just used pic collage to make them. If you decide to use this, your system needs to be personalised to your child
✨This system is only appropriate for children with little to no motivation, who are 'acting out' and displaying difficult behaviours when you ask them to do certain things. It is not neccessary for every child - feel free to message me if you'd like to discuss this
✨During school closures, your child's health and well being is so important. Don't have too many academic targets or time frames for activities that appear overwhelming. The idea is to encourage achievable habits. Your child has to feel that what you are asking of them is reasonable and fair.
🎯Targets: For this system, I would recommend having no more than 3 targets. Its handy to start off including 1 target you know they will find easy. So in my example, the child is struggling to be motivated to read and keeps falling out with their sibling! The child does enjoy maths though. This is why maths will only earn them 2 tokens - they're an easy 2 tokens to earn!
🎫Tokens: Break down the targets into steps - what do they have to do to earn a token? For more challenging targets, you need to have the opportunity to earn more tokens. In my example for reading, if the child only reads but refuses to answer questions or practise key words, they still earn 1 token. This means that even if your child doesn't complete every little step, the fact they have made some effort is acknowledged and rewarded. Its a good idea to have physical tokens - raffle tickets/counters/post its so they can be visually displayed and kept track of.
🎈Treat shop: These are your motivators and its important to make sure that all of these are achievable - so if your child chooses one, you have the equipment available for them to do it. Its also important that your child has input here. If they don't like lego, they won't be motivated to work for it. Choose treats that your child loves. It could be something like baking, painting, a dance party in the kitchen, a bath bomb, a movie might etc. Get your child to rank these from their favourite to their least favourite - this helps you to decide their token price. In my example, the child has to earn at least half of their tokens to choose a treat. Don't make it too difficult to earn or your child will lose motivation to try.
💰Spending tokens: Get your child to count the tokens they have earned and praise them. Look at the treat shop together - if your child earns 8 tokens but only wants to spend 4, let them save the extra 4 for the next day.
👍The rules: keep these simple and fair. In my experience, the treat shop closes if a child hits/kicks/behaves in a way that is completely unreasonable. The really important thing here is they don't lose their tokens. They simply lose the chance to spend them and have to wait until much later on or the next day. If we remove the tokens that they have earned whilst making good choices earlier on then they have no motivation to keep trying. Especially on days they are finding it tricky to make good behaviour choices.
🗨Talking: When discussing this system with your child try to keep a calm voice, don't 'over talk' and if the treat shop closes - wait until your child is calm before asking them what happened. Get them to reflect on why you had to close the shop. Reassure them that it will open later/the next day and that now the incident is over. You are starting again. 'Tomorrow is a new day.'