Monday, 14 October 2013

Kids Controlling Their Own Moods and Behaviours

Most children are very skilled at manipulation, figuring out ways to get what they want. It's an inbuilt survival skill. The difficulty arises when their behaviour is too self-focussed and impacts upon others.
In our house we developed a behaviour indicator, (see above) which helps a child realise how they've behaved. The blue knob is slid backwards or forwards, depending on whether privileges have been lost or gained. 
There are expectations for behaviour, for both child and parents, which are clearly stated:

· Speak in a respectful tone of voice
· Show you are grateful for what is done for you (saying thank you)
· Not arguing, but saying “Ok Mum/Dad” or nothing at all.
· Consider the feelings of others (not bossy when playing with other kids)
· Apologise when it’s the right thing to do
· Be helpful & thoughtful
· Keep your room tidy
· Help with chores
· Respect privacy and belongings of others

Mum and Dad:
· Guide you, believe in you, encourage you.
· Look after you, make decisions for you
· Provide a safe place for you to grow up

The indicator is linked to a list of privileges, which can be withdrawn or won back:

Everyday privileges
· Watching 1 TV or DVD episode
· Walk dog to school
· Swimming at the pool
· Listen to music
· See the horse (brush/feed/ride)
· 7.30pm bedtime lights out

Special One-off privileges
· Eat in front of TV
· Watch a whole movie
· 8pm bedtime lights out
· Trip on Dad’s boat
· Visits to or from other kids
· Out of school activity (Scouts or Little Athletics)
· Go to the movie cinema
· Out for a meal
· Picnic
· Go to markets

Lose spaces if you:
· Leave clothes etc lying around
· Are rude, mean or ungrateful
· Are asked more than once to do something
· Are not in bed on time at 7.15pm (Lights out 7.30pm)
· Are disobedient

Most importantly, we provide specific ways in which our child can WIN BACK spaces. This is what really counts:

Gain spaces if you do the following without being asked:
- Put your clothes away
- Entertain yourself for 1 hour
- Help with dishes
- Set the table
- Mind your tone of voice & not arguin
- Cleaning – help Dad or Mum
- Bedtime list without being prompted

This puts the child in more control. They may lose a privilege, (or two!) as a consequence of their actions, but have the opportunity to win them backif they change their behaviour. It's less punitive and more empowering, while maintaining a standard of behaviour and providing feedback to the child. Our little girl loves it. The chart quantifies, in a measureable way, her behaviour, good and bad. It could be modified to suit the child, with slightly different aspects of behaviour listed. I know. This is very detailed! Your head mught be buzzing right now, but for our particular child it works like a charm. we don't have to rant and rave, we just calmly slide the indicator back and discuss what happened. Then we provide the opportunity to have it slid forward again. Much less drama! Natural consequences follow choices. Isn't that what life is about, learning to make good choices?

So if you're wondering what on earth you can do to manage behaviours, perhaps draw up your own version of this and give it a go! The key is strict adherence. There's no point in a half-hearted attempt on your part. Your child will be watching you like a hawk to see if you're consistent. Make it easier for yourself and stick to it, the easy parts (granting privileges) and the not-so-fun bit, (taking them away).
Good luck!

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