We are constantly trying to get our kids to change their behaviors, and it's not easy to do. On tough days, we nag, cajole and bargain. On good days, we use organization systems, behavior plans, and reward charts. There's an art to motivate kids without overwhelm or pushback.
All too often, though, we put detailed systems into place… and then get aggravated when they don’t work.
Now don't get me wrong. Systems are essential, and when properly executed, they can work like magic. Diane's article on Why Reward Systems Work and How to Start One is a terrific example.
A number of factors can interfere with a well intended system, and you need to watch out for them. For starters, you’ve gotta have buy-in from other members of the family (and the kids whose behavior you’re trying to change). Next, you want to be clear about the behavior you’re trying to change, and what the benefits will be to your child for changing it. And then, you want to give new systems a chance to work, including tweaking them and trying again.
But the greatest challenge is often that we create systems that are not designed to be practical. Reward charts and other systems can get cumbersome – and then, we get surprised when our kids (with limited executive function) have a hard time making them work.
In other words, we make things too complicated!
Having to constantly keep track of stickers, check marks or smiley faces can be tedious and time consuming. And if we try to track too many things at once, well… it’s a recipe for limited success and overall disappointment.
Not to mention the difficulty for those of us parents who struggle with our own executive function challenges. It’s hard enough to find our keys, how are we going to remember to check 26 items on a list every night before bedtime?
So you, as parents, need solutions that can be implemented quickly and easily, both inside and outside the home. And that means you need to keep it simple!
You can keep it simple by having only 2 or 3 household rules that everything else falls into. Or maybe only Taking Aim on one thing at a time. You’ll have to assess what it means for you, but of this you can be sure: to motivate kids without overwhelm, Keeping it Simple is a simple recipe for success – for you as well as your child.