Sunday, 8 September 2013

Show me the carrot...!

On the whole my kids don’t need that much modification. In fact, their default settings are generally quite pleasing. A few tweaks here and there, and they’ll grow up to be shiny, happy people with lots to give back to their world. Well, that's what I tell myself anyway!

In the past, when I’ve wanted to them to stop doing something – or indeed – start doing another thing altogether (I’m so demanding!), I’ve resorted to high stakes bribery – usually a shiny new top perched on the top of the fridge until the desired outcome is reached. I’ve made makeshift charts that require a certain amount of ticks – and doled out sweeties as incentives. And this is how we’ve navigated such milestones as dumping dummies, accepting a new swimming teacher (‘but I love Angieeeeeeeeeeee’) and STOPPING SHOUTING ALL THE TIME (yeah, Mummy needs one of those charts, but the kids can’t afford the Marc by Marc Jacobs dress I’ve requested, so the shouting will continue until they get me that frock).

Shameless bribes for children
But, since part of the mummy job, is on-going support and encouragement (right?) there are always a few things we need to work on, a few behaviours I’d like to see more of. And as they’ve got older, there is less of getting rid of undesirable behaviour and more of reinforcing the positive. And this is where a decent reward chart comes in; specifically where a Radical Rewards chart comes in...

Radical Reward Charts are designed by artist Vita Bosque-Greene, and look more like posters than the type of incentive charts you might be used to seeing. Some of the designs will particularly appeal to boys and older children too. Themes include Creepy Crawlies and Gruesome Graveyard for example. This is not the place to come for Princessy pink or fussy fairies!
Chart their success!

 Experienced guide

The charts use a 20 step progress route that can be used again and again, and the child goes up the chart rather than receiving points or stickers in a straight line. At the top of the chart lies the reward of your choosing (in this house it was a toy £5 note, to be exchanged for a real one when the summit was reached). The company also sends out some simple guidelines to help you use the charts effectively and the founder, Amanda Noble-Simmons, a mother of four herself, offers online support to further guide you on your child’s behaviour and best use of the charts. The top tip I picked up was to have a half-way mark incentive, as to reach the top of the chart might take some time, and younger children can lose interest if the result seems unobtainable. 
Instead of pre-set behaviours, the chart is open-ended so that parents can tailor the process to reward any good deeds they wish to see more of. When you buy the charts you can also opt to have a photo of your child laminated by the company and sent to you along with your chart. My two loved the novelty of seeing the tiny mini-me versions of themselves climbing up the chart. Or if you prefer you can use a cheeky-looking carrot to climb up the chart on your behalf (he’s holding a stick – carrot and a stick – geddit?). There’s no need for the naughty step Amanda believes, when you concentrate on reinforcing the positive.
It's all about the veg - not the stick!

The verdict

I have to say my kids loved the charts. They took some time to choose a theme and would have liked some more girlie ones with pet animals on apparently but opted for the Wacky Wildlife style. We had sweets at the half way mark and a list of ways to climb the chart (including tidying their bedrooms, being ‘super’ kind or helpful and completing school-type work during the holidays in an attempt to bypass the summer brain-drain!) by the side. I also randomly moved them up for behaviours that weren’t listed (as suggested in the accompanying advice), for example when somebody at the swimming pool commented on how well they were behaving.

The girls really took to the novelty of having mini-versions of themselves ‘achieving’ and the eldest told me that the chart made her ‘determined to get to the top’! Once they had reached number 20 and got their hands on their money, they were keen to start the process all over again too!

From mummy’s point of view, the charts will last and can be modified to suit both my children and the different ages and stages they pass through. And it covers up a wall that needs painting with rather fetching art!

Do you use reward charts – and do they work for your offspring? Do you have another method of reinforcing positive behaviour you care to share? Comments in the box below please!

For the purpose of this review Radical Reward Charts gave me two Wacky Wildlife charts free of charge. Thank you!


  1. They sound good. I use too much bribery but a reward chart would probably help.

    1. Thank you for commenting. Sometimes I feel like the bribes can escalate out of control too - and that the kids won't do anything unless bribes. At least a chart spreads to bribes out!!!