Staying off the Naughty List

If you want to make sure that your little ones are on the ‘Nice List’ this year, take advantage of all of the exciting things going on and use it to encourage good behaviour. Children of all ages get excited at all the preparations, events and traditions at Christmas time.

Rewarding children is one of the best ways to encourage good behaviour. Always offer rewards during a calm period, never during a tantrum. Be sure to be specific and explain exactly what your child has to do to earn the reward. Consider all the special things your kids want to do and use these as rewards. Putting up the Christmas tree, making decorations or going to a show all make great rewards for a week or months worth of good behaviour. Buy or use a reward chart to track progress towards earning the reward. Consider your own family traditions or adding new ones like a trip to an ice rink.

Advent calendars make good reward charts. Some advent calendars have a small sweet in them, so you wouldn’t want to offer this reward more than once per day, but it’s a perfect reward for eating your vegetables at dinner. These calendars are extremely cheap after Christmas and can be used any time. Decorate or alter the calendar to reflect the behaviour you’re trying to encourage.

Christmas crackers also make a great reward for children all through the holiday season. Stock up on these after Christmas when they are 75% off and they only cost you a few cents each. Reward children with a cracker for doing small jobs, doing their homework, or getting ready on time in the morning.

Written by Lisa O Duinn – Author of ‘Toddler Reward Charts’ and ‘Good Habits Colour Book’ available at Lisa gives 'Behaviour Managment' workshops for County Childcare Committee's or parenting groups. It is an interactive workshop giving parents and carers the opportunity to focus on behaviours they are struggling with, identify solutions and a plan of action, all in a group setting that encourages sharing ideas. Places limited to 15 people per workshop and lasts 2 hours.

First published 4kids Winter 2008