Education and sanity! Our behavior modification system in the face of ADHD.

I have experienced and read about a host of behavior modification programs over the years.

  1. Most schools use the color system. Luke’s classroom has a rainbow scale on the wall. Each child has a clip of their own and it is moved to different colors based on their behavior: green is meeting expectations; up from there is blue and purple for going beyond expectations; down from green is yellow, orange, and red for different degrees of not meeting expected behaviors. Then they are awarded weekly according to the color they are on at the end of each day.
  2. The charter school they were in before this year moved from the color system with rewards to a sort of “shame system” last year. If you were caught breaking any of the classroom rules, you had to sign “the book.” It was just a composition book in each classroom. Let me tell you, for kindergartners, this system was useless. Signing their name in a log was not punishment enough to deter them from breaking rules (especially my poor we-didn’t-yet-know-he-was-ADHD son).
  3. Russell A. Barkley suggests a token system in his book “Taking Charge of ADHD.” His system rewards the child for good behaviors by putting tokens (he suggests poker chips) in their bank and punishes by removing tokens, a fine of sorts. Then, all activities the child wants to do are assigned a token value. ALL activities. TV watching, computer time, outside play, the works. While I think this system is smart on so many levels (teaches handling money, budgeting, saving, earning everything not just special things, etc), I have not tried it. I am afraid to. You see, I have let TV, computer, and Nintendo DS become entitlements in my children’s minds, not privileges to be earned. I do limit them but I have never made them earn these activities. I fear anarchy.
  4. A visual quarter system I learned about from Jenn in her “Can Mom Be Calm?” blog. You make paper quarters and you post them on the child’s chart on the wall for the child to see all the time. When they see it, they are motivated to behave and earn more.

Yesterday I implemented the quarter system for Luke and Emma for their chores. Before we had a chart with a week’s worth of chores and they were to put a star sticker on each day they did each chore. For Emma, the chore is worth 50 cents because it is harder and for Luke, each chore is worth 25 cents because they are simpler. So Emma’s stars were worth 50 cents and Luke’s stars were worth 25 cents. You can see how this got confusing… And Luke would ask me at least once a day how much he had accumulated so far (I am trying to teach saving for something you really want so they have an “account” with me and I buy them the item of their choice with the money they earned). When I read about the quarters plan, I knew it would help simplify the chore rewards.

So I printed out 96 illustrated quarters, cut them out, and applied Velcro to the backs of them. Then I created a “$5” page for each child: it has 5 squares that equal $1 and each square has 4 Velcro dots to receive quarters. Then, because I encourage them to have at least $20 before spending, I put a pouch on the bottom of their page and printed play $5 bills to go in the pouches. So, once the page is full of quarters, they put a $5 bill in their pouch and clear all the quarters off to begin again.

When I finished creating everything, we put it in motion. I tallied what each had from the previous system and put it up on the new chart. Luke had $5.75 so he got three quarters displayed and a $5 bill in his pouch. I quickly learned that I’d have to keep the play money put up as Luke decided he’d add a five dollar bill in addition to his quarter after setting the table for dinner. He is sneaky like that. He is SMART like that.

I intend to add bonuses for good behavior (like earning purple in school for Luke) and fines as well (like for hitting each other which is happening daily all of the sudden). I hope to one day have the gumption to have them earning the privileges they feel entitled to. For now, I have my sanity back not having to tally the weekly sheets full of star stickers every day and Luke is learning to count money and to save for bigger things he wants, etc.

Education and sanity! What could be better?

COVER3D_400sq_bestsellAward-Winning Blogger. Freelance Writer. Author. Warrior Mom.
A self-described “veteran” parent of a son with ADHD, Penny Williams is the author of the Amazon best-seller about her parenthood in the trenches, Boy Without Instructions: Surviving the Learning Curve of Parenting a Child with ADHD. She is also the creator of the award-winning website, {a mom’s view of ADHD}, a frequent contributor on parenting a child with ADHD for ADDitude Magazine and other parenting and special needs publications, and co-founder of the annual Happy Mama Conference & Retreat, a weekend away for moms of kids with neurobehavioral disorders. Look for her second book, What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting ADHD, in late 2014. Follow Penny at http://BoyWithoutInstructions.com.

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behavior modification, parenting/FAMILY, treatment ·

About the author

COVER3D_400sq_bestsellAward-Winning Blogger. Freelance Writer. Author. Warrior Mom. A self-described “veteran” parent of a son with ADHD, Penny Williams is the author of the Amazon best-seller about her parenthood in the trenches, Boy Without Instructions: Surviving the Learning Curve of Parenting a Child with ADHD. She is also the creator of the award-winning website, {a mom's view of ADHD}, a frequent contributor on parenting a child with ADHD for ADDitude Magazine and other parenting and special needs publications, and co-founder of the annual Happy Mama Conference & Retreat, a weekend away for moms of kids with neurobehavioral disorders. Look for her second book, What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting ADHD, in late 2014. Follow Penny at http://BoyWithoutInstructions.com.

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The "ADHD Mommas" are not medical or mental health professionals, nor an ADHD coach. Any opinions shared here are just that, opinions. I, and the other "ADHD Mommas," are sharing our experiences with our own ADHD children. Please do not re-post or publish any content or photos without a link back to {a mom's view of ADHD}. Have the courtesy to give credit where credit is due. Copyright protected. All rights reserved.

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