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Grandma's Rule: Chart it!

One effective way to change behavior is to use charts and contracts. Charts and contracts are agreements between you and your kids that spell out what they will receive from you when they behave in certain ways. With charts and contracts, privileges are contingent on specific behaviors you want to see from your kids.

Do you remember "Grandma's Rule"? When you finish cleaning your room, then you can go outside and play. If you were to write this agreement down, you would have a contract. Charts are illustrated contracts that show similar agreements. Both charts and contracts have three main points:

  1. Specify the behavior your child needs to change
  2. Specify what privileges can be earned
  3. Specify how long the agreement is in effect

Charts and contracts are valuable tools that help keep track of the agreements made between you and your kids. They come in handy at these times:

When you want to focus on a particular problem behavior. For example, if your child frequently complains when asked to do something, has tantrums, or is late for school in the mornings.

When your child has a goal in mind. Your child may want to work toward earning money for a new bike or to have a later bedtime.

When you have a particular goal you would like your child to achieve. You may want your child to start a savings account, get more involved in school activities or mow the lawn regularly.

In each of these situations, a chart or a contract can be used to monitor and record progress.