Prefer Audio?


Download companion Behavior Specific Modification Strategy PDFs here.

In this video, I will be sharing four additional Behavior-Specific Modification Strategies.

In the first video, I shared the Punch Card strategy, as well as how to introduce and implement the strategy to your child through the Pre-Meeting, which is an important part of ensuring success with a behavior-specific modification strategy. Let’s get started with the second strategy.

The second strategy is a Behavior Specific Star Chart. This is used to track a behavior over a specific length of time. The increment of time depends on the age and specifics of the child, as well as the behavior itself. An example of when you might use the Behavior-specific Star Chart is for a child who has a habit of being bossy, negative, is complaining a lot, or is crying unnecessarily or excessively, or at inappropriate times.

It would work for many of the other behaviors on the list presented in the first part of this video series as well. You would use the Pre-Meeting, which is available in the premium version of Part 1, to introduce the Behavior-specific Star Chart to your child.

In order to implement this strategy, you will want to think about your child and decide how frequently he or she will need to see a sticker put on the chart in order to be motivated. For a child who can easily delay gratification and is perhaps a bit older, one star per day is good. For a child who is younger, a morning, afternoon, and evening star may provide the motivation needed.

For a even younger child, or a child who has difficulty delaying gratification, an hourly star may do the trick. Choose the least frequency required to provide the necessary motivation.

Here’s an example of how to start, post, and complete a Behavior-specific Star Chart. Print the chart. Fill out your child’s name and the behavior they are working toward. State it in a positive way. For example, instead of saying, “Stop Lying,” you will want to write, “Tell the Truth.” Post the star chart on the refrigerator or other appropriate location.

If you’ve implemented the Choice Chart, you can post your behavior-specific start chart right next to that. Give your child a sticker for each time increment, whether day, half-day, or hourly, for which he or she displays the desired behavior, or doesn’t display the undesirable behavior, depending on how you have set it up.

During the pre-meeting you will have determined at what interval they receive their reward, as well as what it is. At the end of the earning period, give the reward. This Behavior-specific Star Chart falls away as soon as you feel the new behavior is your child’s new norm. If you covered all of the important steps of the pre-meeting, you shouldn’t need to bring the star chart back at a later time for the same behavior.

But sometimes you might need to, and that’s ok. Afterall, that’s why kids are here, to learn, with you as their loving, patient guide.

Ok, so, let’s move on to the next strategy. This strategy is called a “token system.” It’s called a token system because your child receives a physical item that represents, or is a token of, the fact that they have made a particular choice. One way to implement a token system is to get a jar or a large coffee can, without the lid.

Get marbles, a bag of small rocks, those smooth craft rocks, or a big bag of pennies. Every time you see the desired behavior, or experience an absence of the undesired behavior, drop a token in the jar or can. When your child hears the clinking sound, you have added an auditory element to the behavior modification strategy increasing their memory traces and making it more powerful for your child. If the behavior still applies when you are out and about, you just can say, wherever you are, “You just earned a token.” Be sure to drop it in when you get home.

You can let your child do the dropping, as long as you monitor the amount that is being dropped. Or, you can decide that you are the official dropper. In this case, let your child watch you drop the object into the jar. When the jar or can is full, or reaches a designated mark you have made on the side of the jar, your child can receive their reward. This is an important mark, because it determines when your child will receive the reward.

If you want your child to get a reward every day or two at first, then you need to use a small jar. If you want your child to earn their reward over a 30-day period, you will want a much bigger jar. One part of this system that you really want to think about ahead of time is to determine how many tokens to give each day, that is, at what pace.

You don’t want to give too many too quickly, or they will earn a reward long before they have released the habit. My recommendation is to be less generous with the tokens in the beginning, so won’t have to pull back later, which won’t be good timing for pulling back, because chances are they will be earning a lot more tokens at that point. So, again, start slow and get a feel for how many you should give in a day before overdoing it.

Sometimes people ask, “Should I take tokens out of the jar when my child displays the undesirable behavior?” Usually, you don’t take tokens out of the jar with this system, even when your child shows the undesirable behavior.But, I do know some parents and classroom teachers who have done this quite effectively. Like with everything, think about your unique situation, and make it work for you. And, if you start something and then find it’s not working, just modify it until it does work.

Here are some examples of how you might describe for your child when exactly they will receive a token. For nail-biting, you might say, “For every hour that you do not put your fingers in your mouth, you will earn a token.” For complaining you might say, “Each time there is an opportunity where you might have usually complained but chose not to, you will earn a token.”
For asking too many questions, you might say, “For every hour that you ask what I decide is an appropriate number of questions, you will earn a token.” words go on screen

Notice that my language is choice-oriented. Notice that the power is with the child. They earn tokens. It’s not me giving them a token. It’s them earning a token. This may seem like a subtle difference, but you will see as you experience the language recommended in all of my videos, that it is precisely these small, subtle differences in language and communication that distinguish excellent parenting from the rest.

Excellent parenting is a decision.

Thank you for watching. The next video includes two more of my favorite strategies that help shape your child’s behavior through love and self-awareness.