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Motivating your child

Encouraging positive behavior in your children is a goal we, as parents, all share. At times their actions and their inattention to detail can be frustrating. Do you ever feel like a nag? How do you help kids take responsibility for their conduct without constant reminders? Here are some suggestions.


Make positive behavioral goals together

Sit down with your child.

1.     Discuss the problem.

2.     Brainstorm solutions.

3.     Come up with a plan.

Always state behavioral changes positively. Rather than telling a child not to hit his or her sister, ask him to keep his hands to himself. Discuss setting a goal to talk quietly, rather than to stop yelling.

Behavioral changes can also include helping with the household tasks and getting homework and reading done. It’s best to prioritize daily activities. Work before play is a good idea.

Make a chart for each child

After the two of you have decided the behavioral changes and listed the responsibilities, make a chart for each child with their assignments for the day or the week. That way everyone will have a clear understanding of his or her obligations.

Create a simple rewards system

Every time the behavior is positive or the work gets done, give the child a token to keep in his box or purse or jar. Then when he has accumulated enough tokens, he can trade them in for the items he wishes.

Decide these benefits together. They can be:

1.              Tangible objects, like toys, games, or books

2.              Activities, like reading a story with Mom or playing kick ball with Dad

3.              Electronic educational apps

4.              Field trips, like going to a museum, the aquarium, the library, or the zoo

Keep track electronically

There are many apps that will help you monitor your child’s progress. Young children will probably enjoy getting physical tokens  and keeping track of them on their own. Older children may want to keep an account of their progress on the computer or their phones.

Friends of mine use “irewardchart” but there are others. Search the app store for “reward kids” or  “reward charts” and see what you come up with.

Work together

The key to the success of this process is including your kids in the decisions.  Their behavior won’t change unless you help them define it in clear positive terms. And they’re not going to be motivated if the rewards aren’t something they are interested in.

The added benefit of this procedure is that you get to work with some of the greatest little people around—your children. Enjoy!  It’s every bit as rewarding as the behavioral changes you’ll see.



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Christy Monson established a successful counseling practice in Las Vegas, Nevada, as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Her books, Love, Hugs, and Hope: When Scary Things Happen, and Becoming Free: A Woman’s Guide To Internal Strength are publ… Read More


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