I don’t know why I haven’t shared this with you before. I was telling a friend about it and realized it would be a great thing to tell ALL my friends about. I apologize for not sharing it sooner, because if you have a child who sometimes misbehaves, this could just be the sanity-saver you need. And if you don’t have a child who sometimes misbehaves, you must not have any children.
I cannot take credit for this idea. I learned about it almost 10 years ago, when I worked at an afterschool program for K-6th graders in college, with this amazing friend as my boss.
We had a big “rainbow chart” and used clothespins with each child’s name on it to track their behavior. Everyday, the kids started on green. If their behavior was positive, they got to “move up” a color. Poor behavior meant they had to move down. We recorded the color they were on at the end of the night, and then they got reward tickets depending on the color. The tickets were spent on Fridays at our “store.”
This spring, I decided to try using this system at home. I scribbled some crayon on a piece of paper and then cut off the sides to make a rainbow striped piece of paper. Then, I painted an “A” for Adam on a simple round magnet, and Boom! I had a new system to monitor behavior!
Adam started on green everyday after school. He had the chance to move up by doing certain chores or if I “caught” him being good. He moved down for various misbehaviors, too. He and I sat down and listed the biggest misbehaviors I’d be watching for. This helped him identify what I wanted to see from him.
Adam earned or lost privileges depending on what color he was on. For example, purple meant he could watch a superhero tv show. Yellow and orange meant no TV and red meant no computer games. We also discussed these ahead of time.
It’s important that there is a “reset” time that is consistent everyday. At the afterschool program, we started at green every afternoon. At home, you might start at green every morning, but since bedtime was/is a tough time for us, I needed to have consequences for misbehavior then, so whatever color Adam was on when he fell asleep carried over to the next morning. Instead of “resetting” to green in the morning, we did it after school. You can adjust this system so it works best for you.
One of the most important things when dealing with behavior challenges is to have a system in place to guide your response. Consistency and following through with consequences can be tough, but a simple system like the Rainbow Chart helps you and your child (or student) know what to expect when misbehavior occurs. Plus, it also encourages positive behavior.
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