A reward system can be a powerful behavior management tool. How can you make it work well in your family?
- Make sure it's easy– and that means for you, the parent! Is this reward system going to give you a headache and end up as just another great idea in a week? If so, simplify, simplify, simplify. Make sure it works for you.
- Monitor a specific behavior during a specific time period. My daughter has a sassy streak. If I were to monitor this all day long, I'd have to quit my job. So, I stick to between 3:00 and 5:00pm, when I am available and able to monitor. It's more manageable for both of us. Plus, if she slips up outside of that time frame, she's less defeated, and I'm (a bit) more understanding!
- Small, immediate rewards work better than larger, longer rewards. The ADHD brain can't see past now, so dangling a carrot they can't reach won't help much to change a behavior. Try an immediate reward (You did your homework before dinner? Here's 15 more minutes of screen time). You might also try giving an intermediate reward, like a sticker, so they can work towards a bigger reward (e.g. three stickers in a week and a friend can visit).
Maybe we'll add a #4: make sure you reward yourself for a job well done. When your kid has a success, you have a success. Take the time to pat yourself on the back!