Following on from last month’s newsletter of the Star Chart, this month takes a look at its cousin: the Consequence Chart. This should work on a visible removal of an item as opposed to the placing of a ‘black mark’ or similar as this tends to be a permanent visual reminder of when a child was ‘bad’. Keeping this score can damage self-esteem.
As with Star Charts, the Consequence Charts are often unsuccessful but for different reasons: Consequence Charts are often incorporated into the existing discipline toolbox when it should be replacing some existing tools, particularly the shouting tool.
The premise, as with the star chart is simple: there is a set number of stars, pegs, fridge magnets etc. and one is removed when the child does something s/he shouldn’t, or does not do something s/he should. A warning can be offered before the magnet is removed, but only once. If it becomes a threat that is not followed through, it is no longer effective, which is often the first way in which this system falls. The magnet is not a bargaining tool. It is also not to be accompanied by the shouting or lecturing tools: if it is, the child may perceive the parent as being mean as there is a “double punishment”.
Once all the magnets have been lost, a privilege is lost for that day only (every day starts afresh). There may well be a melt down at the fact that a privilege (such as TV or playing on the iPad) is unavailable, and this is another area where errors are made: The typical instinct is to launch into a lecture of why the privilege was lost which often results in a greater argument. Should a melt down occur, it can be ignored; or sympathy can be offered at the fact that the child is sad (no, you are not going against what you are trying to do). Offering sympathy (“I am sorry you are sad about this”) allows the child to express him/herself and both parent and child can move into a good space quicker, because there is no argument (resist the urge to speak more).
It is imperative that the child knows beforehand what the do’s and don’ts are. Remember to be kind to yourself and select a few behaviours to change – as they say, Rome was not built in a day.