Posted in Compliance, Parenting, Uncategorized

Super Simple Sticker Charts (They Don’t Have to Be Complicated!)

I’m all for fancy behavior charts and sticker charts, but they’re not absolutely necessary.  Your child might be content with a simple table and some fun stickers.  If you don’t want to mess with finding the perfect one or tweaking one that someone else made, it can be fairly easy to make your own.  I have two examples to share below.

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This first one would be an example of a sticker chart to work on bedtime routine – you have your days of the week running along the top and the tasks of the routine along the side.  The kiddo would get to put a sticker for each task on each day, so potentially a total of 4 stickers per day.



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This second one could be for any behavior and splits the day up into two different time frames.  So, for example, if you’re working on Following Directions, your kiddo would get to put a sticker in the “Before Lunch” on Monday square if they follow directions between waking up and lunchtime.

These are simple to make in Microsoft Word or Excel or by hand (I’d want a ruler because I’m a bit of a perfectionist).  They look boring to start, but most kids LOVE putting stickers on, so it won’t be long before that chart will be filled up with shiny (possibly glittery) stickers.

Posted in Compliance, Parenting

Tips for Increasing Your Child’s Compliance with Homework

Maybe you’re lucky and have a kiddo who sits down every day after school, with a smile on their face and does their homework. Maybe. But if you’re not so lucky and you have a kiddo who whines or complains about homework, or takes forever to do it, or refuses to do it completely, I have a few tips that might help. As always, these are general tips and may not be appropriate for you or your kiddo, depending on your individual situation. If homework completion truly is an issue, consider seeing a behavior therapist for a few sessions!

  • Be consistent.  If you want to have your child do homework as soon as they get home, go for it.  Or give them 30 minutes to relax, then have them do homework until it’s done.  Whatever you do, be as consistent with it as you can.
  • Have certain activities that have to be “earned” by doing homework.  One option would be to set the expectation that there will be no television time until homework is completed.  Pick something your child enjoys so that it motivates them.
  • Practice using calming strategies both before beginning homework and during, if they become upset or frustrated.
  • If you think your child struggles with confidence, practice positive self-statements, like “I got this” or “I can do it.”
  • FOLLOW THROUGH.  Make sure that homework gets done… if your child doesn’t complete the homework before school the next day, have them do it the next evening after their new homework.  This might seem harsh and, yes, it might keep accumulating.  But if you let your kiddo get out of doing homework just one night, they’ll know that they can get out of it in the future.
  • Praise your kiddo for completing their homework, especially if they do so without arguing or whining!
Posted in Compliance, Parenting

Using Rewards and Consequences at Home to Reinforce School Behavior

It’s very, very common for me to hear from parents that their child is struggling with behavior at school, but is a great kid at home.  I’ve had a lot of frustrated parents in my office because they just don’t know what to do.  Unfortunately, there can be a lot of barriers in the school system, including teachers with too many kids in their classroom.  I’ve also heard some kids name “punishments” at school that are actually positively reinforcing their negative behavior… this isn’t necessarily because the school is clueless; sometimes what is “punishing” for one kiddo can be reinforcing for another.

So what can you, as a parent, do?  One thing you can do is use a reward or consequence at home for your child’s behavior at school.  This would require you to work with your kiddo’s teacher to somehow (phone call, email, note sent home, etc) get a message EACH DAY from the teacher about how the child’s day went.  TIP… you’re going to want to pick one or two “problem behaviors” to get feedback on – this could be aggression, compliance with schoolwork, or anything else your kiddo might be struggling with – make sure your child’s teacher knows what specifically to report on.  I’ve had a mom send a “smiley chart” to school, with the teacher’s approval, to be completed each day.  I’ve also had moms who just get a short email update from the teacher.

From there, you get to decide whether you want your child to earn something extra if they behaved well, or if they lose a privilege or earn some other kind of consequence if they displayed any negative behaviors.  A few examples:

  • Reward: Child can earn an extra 30 minutes of electronics time if the teacher says they did well that day.
  • Reward: Child can earn a special after-school snack if the teacher says they did well that day.
  • Reward: Child can stay up 10 minutes late if the teacher says they did well that day.
  • Consequence: Child has to complete an extra chore if the teacher reports negative behavior.
  • Consequence: Child loses television time if the teacher reports negative behavior.
  • Consequence: Child has to complete an extra math/reading/writing worksheet if the teacher reports negative behavior.

Pick something that you know will motivate your child, give them a heads up about the change, then be as consistent with it as possible!  Eventually, once your child is successful, you will want to fade the consequence or reward.  So you might start offering a reward every other day instead (for good behavior on both days), then eventually just once per week (for good behavior 5 out of 5 days per week).

*Note: I’m not recommending that all parents use a reward/consequence system for school behavior… this is more for the kiddos who are struggling with something specific at school*


Posted in Compliance, Parenting

How to Get Your “Picky Eater” to Not Be So Picky

Let me start this post with a short snippet about my husband, who is a “picky eater.”  He is getting better, but when we first met, I NEVER saw him eat vegetables… except potatoes. He once told me that he blames his parents because they “never” made him eat anything he “didn’t like” or “didn’t want to eat.” Now… I wasn’t there and I’m not sure how accurate that is.  I do know that I have had other parents come in and tell me about how they will make their child a preferred food if they don’t like what the rest of the family is having for dinner.  I have seen family members give in and, when the rest of the family is having baked chicken, make a “picky eater” PIZZA ROLLS.

Before we get going into how to handle “picky eaters,” let me say that if your kiddo just doesn’t like a handful of foods, then you don’t *need* to do anything about it.  Not very many people like all foods.  If your child eats well and likes most foods, but doesn’t like meatloaf or corn, then there’s no need to force them to eat meatloaf or corn.  This post pertains to the children who will only eat a handful of foods (likely foods like chicken nuggets, french fries, mac ‘n cheese, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches).  If this is your child, read on!

How NOT to handle a “picky eater” is to just make them chicken nuggets (or pizza rolls…) every time they throw a fit.  First off, your child may not even actually be a picky eater; they just might have figured out that they can get something “yummier” if they throw a fit.  I can understand why it might happen… mom and dad have been at work all day, are already exhausted, and still have a list of 50 things to get done before bed.  The last thing they want is a meltdown at the dinner table and a fight trying to get their kiddo to eat meatloaf (or whatever it is they don’t want to eat).  It’s easier to just make them something else.  I get it; I really do.  But guess what happens?  You get a child who learns that mom and dad aren’t going to follow through and that if they throw a big enough fit, mom and dad will make them something else. Unless you break the cycle, they aren’t likely to “grow out of” this.

So what do you do with your “picky eater?”  You have to start getting them to eat non-preferred foods.  You can try a “cold turkey” method and just stop making them anything extra… but you could make it a bit easier on yourself and your kiddo if you ease into it.  So for this example, we’re going to pretend that I’m a mom to “Johnny” who loathes every single meat option BUT chicken nuggets.  If I have already been making Johnny chicken nuggets for every meal, I’m not going to just stop, but I am going to slowly make him take bites of the other meat I serve.

So the first week I will explain to Johnny that he needs to take JUST ONE bite of meatloaf, then he can have chicken nuggets.  Will he fight it?  Probably.  But one bite with the reward of chicken nuggets will be much more appealing than telling him to just “suck it up” and eat the meatloaf.  Stick with it and make sure he takes that one bite before letting him have the chicken nuggets.  And when he takes the bite?  PRAISE, PRAISE, PRAISE!!  Does it seem ridiculous to praise him for taking one bite?  Absolutely!!  But do it anyways because it makes it more likely that Johnny will take his bite the next night.

From there, keep increasing the amount of non-preferred food that Johnny must eat before he can have his beloved chicken nuggets.  If Johnny goes 3-4 days in a row without making a fuss about the one bite, increase it to 2-3 bites, then keep increasing from there.  Know that every time you increase it, Johnny might put up a fight again.  The most important thing to do is follow through – do not back down.  It may take a while, but it will be worth it.  Instead of fighting your “picky eater” for the next 10-15 years, you’ll put in a lot of work for a few months in exchange for a child who will eat more than just fries and chicken nuggets. 🙂

Also, remember that your child watches what you do!  It’s not fair to expect your children to eat their vegetables if you (or your partner) refuse to do so.  You must be a good role-model, even when eating.





Posted in Compliance

How to Practice Compliance While Playing with Building Blocks

Typically, if you set a box of building blocks (Legos, K’Nex, waffle blocks, etc.) in front of a kid, they grab blocks and start building.  Most don’t necessarily care what color of block they’re getting.  When a kiddo wants to play with building blocks, it’s easy to turn it into a compliance activity.  I have a Lego set with yellow, blue, green, and red Legos.  I usually get some arguing and whining from children if I turn it into a compliance activity and tell them they can only use two colors.  It’s a great way to practice following directions and following through, as it can be hard for the kiddo to accept.

I’ve gotten lots of great responses, such as:

  • “Why?” (CLASSIC)
  • “But can I just use this one red?”
  • “But then I won’t be able to build it!”
  • “How come you get to use those ones?”

If I tell a kiddo that he can only use yellow and blue and he starts whining?  Consequence.  When he finally says “Ok?”  Praise, praise, praise!  Then I’ll let him build for a few minutes before switching up the colors by saying, “Ok, now you can only use red and blue.”  Repeat with consequence for whining/arguing/noncompliance and praise for accepting and following through.  Easy!

Posted in Compliance

Crayons and Compliance

One of the top issues that parents want me to work on with their child is compliance.  Parents will tell me that their child will follow through with only 0-1 out of 10 directions on the first time asked.  How frustrating!  An easy activity for increasing compliance is coloring – so easy!  You can print free coloring pages online and use crayons/markers/colored pencils.

All you have to do is give them the direction to color a portion of the picture a certain color.  Then wait to see if they complete the steps to following directions (say “ok” and do the task).  EASY PEASY!  You can provide direct feedback and continue this until the entire picture is complete.  Direct feedback might sound like this: “you did a great job of coloring with the crayon I told you, but you forgot to say ‘ok.’ Next time I want to hear you say ‘ok’ first.”

Many kiddos will be completely compliant with this activity during the session because they like coloring and like it a whole lot more than being told to brush their teeth.  What I will do sometimes with kiddos is pick a coloring page of cartoon characters they know (Paw Patrol or Frozen, for example) and have them color characters the WRONG color.  I’m no expert on Paw Patrol, but I’m pretty sure the fire fighter dog is wearing red.  I get pretty strong reactions out of kiddos when I tell them to paint his hat purple and his sweater green.  That’s a great opportunity to teach to kiddos about expectations and listening.

Also, I’ve had parents do this activity with their child during family therapy sessions as well.  It’s all about the PRACTICE… if they can comply in my office, either with me or parents, then it makes it more likely that they will comply at home as well.