Reward charts for children. Good or bad?

reward chart(Photo Source)

One of the things about my blog, this little space, where I let loose the contents of my head, and share about our parenting journey, is that I will always be honest. I want to be real, and to share where we are at, and where we have been, and if what I write is helpful to even one person, then I am happy.

So, in the spirit of being honest, we are struggling with Little Man. He is at the stage, almost 4 years old, coming into all sorts of new developmental and physical stages (I have talked about the testosterone surge at this age here) where he is learning, growing, and changing fast, and it’s hard on him, and it’s also hard on us, as parents. We have real moments of joy, and amazement and pride, watching him, and then moments of almost wanting to bang our heads against a wall in frustration, when we are struggling to manage him, or help him manage himself,  and he also gets upset and frustrated.

We have a lot of tantrums, shouting, some physical reactions (he will hit out, or try and throw things, if he is angry) and lots of refusal to co operate with things, when he feels life isn’t going his way, or he doesn’t want to work with the rest of the family to get things done or get somewhere. (getting out of the house, in the morning for school, is very stressful and painful, at the moment, for example, and if he decides he doesn’t want to put his shoes on, or get his coat on, it can turn into a real battle of wills, which isn’t conducive to a peaceful or happy start to the day)

I know a lot of it is typical of this age, and some of it will pass, but I want to try and manage it better, and in a positive way, and help him to help us, as well as himself. I am tired of the battle of wills over small things, as well as bigger things, and whilst he is a strong, feisty and high needs little boy, who does need help to manage things like noisy situations, crowds, and other things that he is still learning to handle better, post grommet insertion.

I am thinking about trying a reward chart system, with a simple list of things he needs to do, and help with, and hopefully can motivate him as well as giving us all some targets to aim for. He likes structure and routine, so hopefully this will encourage that. We plan to get a small stash of items (he currently favours all things Lightning McQueen right now) and use them as rewards.

It does seem like bribery, to try and achieve what we want, but I think it’s also good for children to be able to work towards achieving something. Is it wrong to set your child some reasonable goals and reward them for reaching them? Am I sounding a tad desperate?

I would love to hear views. Have you used reward charts successfully, and how did you go about it, or do you loathe them, and think they are a bad idea, but more importantly, what do you suggest as a solution….?

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