Thursday, January 10, 2008

Star Charting

Yesterday at lunch time I called my friend Elke to check on the status of her son's sprained ankle and to beg her to adopt The Mayor see if she wanted to have lunch.

She couldn't meet, but did talk with me about my poor mothering skills The Mayor and his tantrums.

Elke suggested that K and I separate The Mayor's time out punishments (given when rules are broken) from the breaks he might need for calming down.

Time outs then become specifically punitive, and "breaks" become something esle... something more positive... taking time for oneself to find composure.

Elke suggested we
use The Mayor's tantrums as a skill building opportunity.

She thought maybe we could help him
learn what he thinks works the best for getting himself under control when he is overly upset like holding his blankie, being held or having time alone with one of us.

Whatever it is, he might begin to
develop his own arsenal of tools for self-control.

Her ideas made me think.

[Hmmm. Skill building...teambuilding. Does this endeavor come with a sexy shirt?]

Elke also talked about how much success she has had with her own son using a star chart to reward good behavior.

Admittedly, I know nothing about star chartism, but I've started working on my design...



Best comment of the day goes to... Flutter.
[Totally going to try that...]


CamiKaos said...

we used a chart for K. One line or box for each day of the week... we used the stickers for potty training, sleeping through the night, good behavior. Good stuff all of it. I was never a chart person until K needed one and boy did she LOVE getting a sticker for good behavior. She relished putting it on her chart... and with enough stickers she would earn a special reward. Sometimes it was something tangible like a my little pony... or in the case of potty training a my little pony castle, sometimes it was dinner at her favorite restaurant or a family movie night.

They have all sorts of charts on the market for kids but I just made a cute one in Word and then printed them out as needed. That way I could customize it.

Robin said...

I've found with little kids that the charts work best when you focus on a single goal at a time and sort of 'scaffold' the goal.

Baby steps.

PunditMom said...

Mmmmm. Gael Garcia!!

As for your friend's advice, some of that worked really well for us and PunditGirl, though, it took a while. (Sorry).

flutter said...

Seriously? You can't squirt him in the face with a water bottle, like a cat?

What about booze? No?


Amy said...

Your chart is funny!!

We do the charting thing and I think it helps them focus. We've done it some for behavior modification (good table manners) and some for habit building (pick up toys). We have given a reward at the end of the week if they have done well.

Make it simple though. That sounds obvious but I suspect you are like me and it soon looks like an Excel spread with embedded links to project management diagrams. heh.

Life As I Know It said...

Charts never worked for my kid. He could have cared less about putting a sticker on his chart and getting a prize...which may be why he didn't potty train until he was 3 1/2.

tulipmom said...

Today I Was???

How about

Today I Did?

Now .... send me a copy of your awesome chart and I'll get right to work on THOSE goals :)

I like the chart idea and focusing on one goal at a time is a good suggestion.

Bri said...

snort! Somehow I don't think that's what your friend intended, but it's certainly funny.

theotherbear said...

Somehow I think that chart might make you behave but not your kids.
I like flutter's suggestion of a water spray bottle.

M&Co. said...

I like that spray bottle idea....

Wendy said...

Well, my Kid would probably like the spray bottle thing.....

We used a chart for her staying in her room until 7am. Once it was filled (12 stars), I painted her toenails. She was so proud! In a scary way.

Now we need a pick up your stuff chart....

Worker Mommy said...

Love it!

Mama DB said...

We tried the chart. The kids clear it on a regular basis and I find the magnets in the cat bowl frequently.

I like your star chart better.

Timeouts, both punitive and therapeutic seem to work for our screaming Mimi. The calming ones are on her bed, with her lamb blanket and the "Don't kick your brother in the face!!!!" ones are one the floor in the hallway.

Heather, Queen of Shake-Shake said...

I's donts knows nothin' 'bout makin' no star charts.

By the age of three, Payton was already wise enough to figure out that in the grand scheme of life, stickers on a chart don't mean crap. They never worked.

We did more of the break thing. He was sent to a safe place and allowed to feel his feelings. I think permission to feel it is key. He could get as angry as he wanted, yelling, screaming, all that stuff. But the door had to be closed and he had to stay in until he got it out of his system.

I secretly tried it out for myself...letting myself be as angry as I felt without the mental committee in my head telling me how I should act. Let me tell ya, it's a huge difference! I didn't carry around the residual anger like I do when my committee tells me I have to so such and such self control.

You're a great mom. I know you'll find what works for you and Mayor!

Anonymous said...

I am new to this blog - well commenting on it that is. Great posts...anyhoo - we used charts for both our kids - potty charts that is. Stickers work great - don't know why the little monsters love them. It seems silly but if you get like 5 good days, maybe an outing with family, his or her choice? Good luck with that..those "tantrum biting other children chart" years were TOUGH!

Jamie Lentzner

Aliki2006 said...

I HATE charts. I really do. I can't tell you how many charts we've made over the years, and how many failed.

Maybe charts work for some people--and I hope they do for you--but they have never worked for me and, so, I hate them.

Haley-O said...

I cannot do charts. They scare me. But, apparently, YOU can do charts. I LOVE IT! Perfect!

Moondance said...

The therapuetic time outs worked for us. It actually got to the point that mid explosion he would take himslef to his room, and come back 15 minutes later saying "I'm sorry Mommy, I just needed to rest because I was too tired." Really.

BlondeMomBlog (Jamie) said...


We have done a star chart in the past for bedtime (because my oldest used to be the queen at prolonging it.) Any way, if she went to her bed on her own after two stories she got a star and then after 7 stars she got a prize from the dollar store.

Now they have a behavior chart at kindergarten and she gets either a smiley, an uh oh, or a frowny face. She's only gotten one frowny face all year and let me tell you, she won't ever forget it! If the kids get five smiley faces in one week they get a prize from the teacher's treasure box.

Mrs. Chicky said...

I wonder if your chart will work with Chicky's potty training? She loves George Clooney.

Tracey said...

Umm, I am thinking at least 4 stars for Jake. What kind of rating system did you use? My goodness! Give a man his dues!

Redneck Mommy said...

Charts never worked for us.

I found it much more useful to duct tape them to a wall when they needed a break.

Or lock myself in the pantry and be very, very quiet.

But then I never tried your chart.

Somehow though, I'm not thinking Clooney would have much effect on my son.

He's more of a Joe Schmoe kinda guy...

Fairly Odd Mother said...

I want to make a star chart for me! On a good day, I might be Mia Farrow or on a bad day, Joan Crawford.

BTW, charts never worked for me b/c I always got too distracted to keep up with them. Although, I do like the idea of squirting them in the face with a water bottle (thanks flutter!)

Don Mills Diva said...

I had completely forgotten about the hotness that is Gael Garcia Bernal. Ay caramba - muy caliente!

All Adither said...

I'm starting a star chart too. I'm thinking of rewarding both kids with a trip to Disneyworld where they will ride It's a Small World while eating from their own tub of margarine. If. If they stop whining.


Bon said...

could you, um, send me one of those charts?

is it wrong that i only want to be Robert Downey Jr., though? or Judd Nelson in the Breakfast Club...can't forget him, dude.

you funny.

Lawyer Mama said...

I've thought about charts, but I'm awfully lazy and it sounds like a lot of work. I'm all for Flutter's ideas. I already use a squirt bottle on the cats and I have a fully stocked bar, so I'm set.

I'll let you know when CPS shows up.

Sarcastic Mom (aka Lotus) said...

That is really damn good advice. Can I borrow your friends every now and again?

I like your chart. But I'd prefer my son be a really good Kiefer Sutherland. You know, on a non-DUI day.

Caro said...


(taking notes for future)

Mary Alice said...

I feel for you...The Rescue Ranger went through a three year old tantrum time...that had I not already had the Middle Child, would have made be reconsider ever reprocreating......

anyway I haven't read all the comments so maybe someone already said this BUT try to make sure that his time-out spots are always in a safe boring place that has no other associations that should be positive.

I didn't give time-out in RR's room, because it shouldn't ever be associated with anything negative. Sounds like the Mayor is over stimulated. I used to ask the Rescue Ranger if he needed me to rub his back when he got wound up like first he would scream no, but as I held him and quietly, calmly rubbed his back, you could feel him slowly melt in and relax.

It is a tough thing those tantrums. Hang on Jess. You'll make it - even though at the time it feels never ending, really it is a phase and you'll find a coping strategy that works for him.

motherbumper said...

I think you need to expand so that badness doesn't seem as bad as RDJr or (shudder) Mickey. Perhaps a Billy Zane or William Dafoe after the schmo might soften the blow? Because a RDJr really could set off a total downward spiral. Just my parenting two cents.

Kelley said...

I use the smiley face chart. Apparently it is supposed to be the childs emotions but I use mine.

The kids know that if the smiley face is red and steam coming out of its ears then they better run FAST and do as they are told.

I am all about positive reinforcement. And wine.

WILLIAM said...

I am just so glad that there are other kids having tantrums.

And Mickey Rourke for being Bad is awesome.

Pgoodness said...

We did charts for potty training for Matt. It worked pretty well.

The year 3 tantrums are horrid and honestly, the alone space was what worked for us. Timeouts for behavior issues, alone time for mental ones.

We broke every rule I ever made and got Matt a tv for his room for when he needed some time away from us and his brother. It's actually been fine - and he rarely uses it anymore. In the midst of the worst of the tantrums one of us would sit in his room with him and let him scream and freak out until he got it all out. Not great moments, but apparently needed for the boy.

Hang in there, you're doing a great job, it' just this age.

Jenifer said...

There are lots of comments, none of which I have the time to read so if this is redundant forgive me!

Any kind of reward or positive reinforcement chart is only as good as the personality of the child. In the case of my Godson he could not care less about stars and stickers and rewards, he just could not relate the current activity (that was negative) to a FUTURE reward.

In the case of my girls it worked wonders for curbing their picky eating. If they ate meat or tried a new food they got a sticker. I picked a number (I think it was twenty) and if they got to it we would go to an indoor playland they love.

I have seen Super Nanny or the other nannies maybe use a jar system with marbles and if you get so many marbles you get a reward. Good behaviour a marble goes in - bad one comes out.

I agree that calming down time is different than the time out time. What I often do now with my girls if I see them getting wound up is I ask them how they want this to end. Do they want a big fight and tears and a time out or can we settle this now somehow. Believe it or not it usually works. I used to be a part of the winding up, and my temper and comments would fuel them. Now I try hard to not make myself part of the escalation.

I really think that time will make this a lot easier and whatever you choose just be consistent. If a certain behaviour gets the same consequence every time the behaviour will start to dwindle, I have seen it happen over and over.

I love that it has not dampened your sense of humour...bring on Mr. Clooney!

furiousBall said...

I use a star chart with my two little ones and it does work, although it is important to keep the marker of reach in case they start to doctor the X's into stars (as my little guy did)

Cory said...

I've been a lurker for awhile but this is my first comment. I'm a 40 year old mom and have a 3 year old daughter and a son who is almost 5.

I've used charts for my kids and they work great for my daughter but my son could have cared less about a chart when he turned 3. He's always been a high maintenance, strong willed child and time outs haven't ever worked well. He would usually gain 3 more infractions on the way to time out from throwing things, pushing, spitting etc.

During his meltdown periods I would have him sit and either read a book or do a puzzle by himself wherever he chose to be as long as he was not destructive or mean to us. He was allowed to be as agnry as he wanted.

If he became destructive or physically mean, I would hold him on my lap facing me where he could not move much. The first few times he cried and cried but when I let go he continued hugging me. Now he doesn't mind when I hold him and it usually calms him immediately but it doesn't happen much anymore.

He's almost 5 now and has very few tantrums and rarely lashes out.

Every child is so different, you and K will know best if it will work for the Mayor or not.

I think you and K are exceptionally great parents.

kellypea said...

I saw the stars thing in your post title and thought we might be on the same wavelength today but I'm on a different kind of stars. I like the chart, tho...

thordora said...

really bad mickey rourke! SNORT!

knock wood, we haven't had any major tantrums problems.

knocking wood harder.

Ruth Dynamite said...

Can I use this chart on my husband?

♥♥♥ A- Licious ♥♥♥ said...

YOUR chart - awesome. CHARTS in general....ummm...i mom tried the chart thing on the 3 of us (me, bro and sis) and they didn't work...we could have cared who knows...everyone is their own individual....but from what i can see from your blogs - The Mayor has some pretty terrific parents...he will be FINE! ;o) xoxoxoxo