This past spring, my then-kindergartener came up with a “star chart” and would mentally calculate how many stars he had for various tasks. He really knew exactly how many stars he had and could tell you why he had each. And he would work towards a goal to earn a prize.
It worked, so we just sort of rolled with it.
But this summer, I knew I needed a more organized way to keep track of such things- and for all three of my boys. Especially with the school work I was having them do.
So now they each have a star chart- it started with a paper one and then we moved to a reward chart app because what isn’t easier with an app?
My boys can earn stars for doing their summer work: workbooks, journal, the various computer programs, reading, etc.
And they can also earn them for being exceptionally helpful or polite. My middle son opening the door for another family to go through to the pool ahead of us. My oldest making a snack for everyone when I was stuck on a conference call. Little things that they get a star for because I like them to know that I’m watching and I appreciate the good they do(and that I don’t just notice when they are being little punks).
But, not everything is gold star behavior.
They were good at the pool?
They had a positive report from camp?
They listened to Grandma when she’s watching them?
Well, that’s what they are supposed to do.
And getting to go to the pool or camp(and Grandma’s): that’s a reward in and of itself. They don’t get rewarded for behaving during a preferred activity. If they weren’t behaving at the pool, we’d just leave.
Obviously, since I use a reward chart, I believe in rewarding my kids.
But it has to be for something that is more difficult for them to do, or something that we are working on trying to see in them more. Sort of like when they were potty training and would get a gold star(and okay, an M&M) for when they would use the potty. They don’t still get one now, years after being potty trained.
They don’t get rewarded for what they should be doing, only for going above and beyond.
Or next thing you know, they’d expect participation trophies. Don’t get me started on those.