I’ve got a little Scottish Highland terrier cross and we’ve been having a few anger management issues lately.
We have a university a couple of suburbs away that happens to be the only specialized veterinarian university in our city (please bear with me here). I rang the veterinary department and they recommended an animal behaviorist who may have be able to help.
To cut a long story short I arranged for this chap to meet with us in our home. He met our rather grumpy terrier, spent a few minutes with her and some time observing how we interact with our dog, and then invited us back inside and then spoke with us in depth about our role in our dog’s anger issues (at an hourly rate I’m too embarrassed to mention).
According to this very learned gentleman most of our dog’s bad behavior was largely a result of us, or more accurately how we interacted with her. In our case our little terrier was confused about her place in the household. She was simply asserting her authority as the head of the pack and we didn’t know any better. To stamp out this behavior we needed to be clear and consistent and most importantly reward the behavior we wanted to see, and ignore the bad stuff.
The correlation between this and how we parent wasn’t lost on me. And the underlying truth that the behaviorist was in fact “training” us wasn’t lost on me either.
Now I promise you I’m not comparing your kids to my little dog, but just to highlight that both situations have us grown-ups as the common denominator. How we choose to react to bad behavior in our kids has a definite influence over whether the behavior continues or stops. I’ve been such a strong advocate for using a rewards chart for children for years now for this very reason – the rewards chart trains us as much as it train our kids.
The Truth Behind Using a Rewards Chart
- A rewards chart can guide us as much as it can guide our children.
- They can teach us as much as teach our children.
- A rewards chart can really strengthen our resolve to ignore unwanted behavior and reward the behavior we want to see.
- Helping to set goals for our children can actually flow on to our parental goal setting.
- Using a rewards chart can really help us to focus in on the good things our kids do (and acknowledging them) and not to sweat so much on the bad things.
- This type of reinforcement strategy is a gentle but very powerful way of guiding our kids toward better behaviors.
My experiences with using a rewards chart have been overwhelmingly successful (albeit with a few hiccups) so I could very easily stretch this list out much longer, but I’d also be very happy to hear from other parents who may wish to add their thoughts.