We just updated P’s coin chart to reflect his love of the Cars movie. We laminated it and use a permanent marker to write on it (nail polish remover takes it right off). The coins are velcro so we can easily take them on and off. I’ll post how we made it later.
I am certainly no behavior expert. I taught kinder and first grade and dealt with my fair share of challenging behaviors. It could be very draining and frustrating, but it also was very interesting to me. It gave me great pleasure when I could help my students change those challenges into more desirable behaviors. It’s like a puzzle. Every child is different and it’s like moving around the pieces to find something that works for that individual.
Anyway, when I became a mom, I thought that would be an area that would come naturally to me. If you ask my husband, he would tell you that it does. Some of it does. I am thankful for the trial and error I got to experience working with other children to learn the basics. However, classroom discipline doesn’t translate to parenting very easily. I am learning daily what works and what doesn’t with my own children.
I found this idea for a coin chart, on Pinterest (yes, I have a Pinterest problem). After about 6 months, I can say that this coin chart helps P tremendously with his behavior. Don’t get me wrong, we still have our days (or weeks ;)) when things are pretty bumpy, but this helps a lot.
We started this when P was about 2 1/2 years old. It took a couple of months for it to really sink in. In fact, I thought about giving up for a while. Now, he totally gets it. He really hates losing coins and is pretty motivated by the incentives.
In the beginning, we choose a goal. It usually takes about 2-3 weeks for P to earn this goal, so it’s something he really wants. He always gets to pick the goal, but I usually give him ideas. Some things we’ve used are ice cream, a train ride at Zilker park, a hot wheel, a cookie.
At the beginning of the day, P has all 6 coins. He can lose or gain back coins for good or bad choices.
Examples of bad choices:
whining, crying, screaming
not listening to mommy or daddy
It’s important for me to talk to him without showing my frustration or anger. If he knows I am upset, this usually encourages the behavior. “P, you just took that car from your brother, I have to take one coin away because that was not a good choice.” Some things merit 2 or 3 coins being taken away, but most of the time it’s just 1.
Examples of good choices:
using words instead of whining, crying, yelling
It helps to recognize the little things and use a really enthusiastic tone of voice. You can see how proud he is when I point out the good stuff. “P, That was so nice of you to share your cars with your brother, I am going to add a coin.” “I liked how you told me you were feeling sad instead of whining. I am adding a coin because you made a good choice.”
P can also earn back coins for doing extra jobs for me. My friend, Stephanie, gave me the idea to have him do chores around the house (cleaning door knobs, helping to unload dishes, etc). Today he cleaned off M’s high chair after lunch to earn a coin back.
If P looses ALL of his coins at any point in the day, he can’t get them back until the next day. Also, he loses his precious iPad time. He gets 30 minutes on the iPad at the end of the day while I am cooking dinner. Okay, I don’t cook dinner, but if I did, I would cook when he was on the iPad. On the days he loses his iPad privilege, let’s just say its a rough day!!
Every morning we look at his coin chart and see how many coins he has left from the day before. If he has all of his coins, he earns a happy face. 10 happy faces earns him his goal. If he only has some or none of his coins, I just say, “Let’s try again today,” and add all of his coins back.
Later, I’ll post some other strategies we use to help the boys make good choices and keep the sanity around here!