Would you like to find a reward system that really works? We found a technique that effectively serves as a reinforcement of connection, helps the child feel successful, and brings positive behavior into the spotlight.
Today, I had the wonderful opportunity of learning about the reward system that Mrs. Skolnik implements in her home with her five-year-old twins. Mrs. Skolnik is a mother of three, who brings her children to the Thrive Group. She graciously allowed me to share the technique that she has been using daily for the past six months. She first formulated the idea while reading the book Transforming the Difficult Child: The Nurtured Heart Approach by Howard Glasser. She started using a ticket system in her home to reward the small positive things that her children did throughout the day. This required her to be mindful of the small positives in her children’s behavior and choices. Mrs. Skolnik noted that saying something like “Wow, you had a tantrum but didn’t throw any toys or furniture. You earned 5 tickets,” was an easy way to reinforce the positive, even after a difficult moment. Helping a sibling, or talking nicely to a parent could earn tickets, as well as doing chores or cleaning up after playing with toys. She expressed the importance of noticing the little things, and the consistent use of tickets to encourage positive behaviors throughout the day.
At the end of the day, Mrs. Skolnik tells each child how many tickets they earned that day, and allows them to choose a prize from a corresponding prize box. The child may chooses a prize from a 5-ticket box, a 10-ticket box etc. depending on the amount of tickets he / she accumulated. The toys are small, (stickers, light up bouncy balls), and yet there is so much excitement about the tickets and prizes. Indeed, the real reward is the connection that is being crafted at home.
Mrs. Skolnik stressed that it’s important to remember that tickets are strictly about noticing the positives. Tickets should not be taken away as a means of punishment for undesired behavior. The reason this technique works is because it requires constant communication and attention to the small things. This system effectively allows the child to say: I am noticed. I matter. I can make some really good choices. And I can enjoy the results.
In the words of Mrs. Skolnik, “Even if you have a really bad day, you can still create love.”
This post was written by Krista Caines, OTAS, a fieldwork student, currently studying at Jefferson University to become an occupational therapy assistant. She spent eight weeks shadowing at The Thrive Group.