Summer is coming! I’m kind of freaking out. I am not into having a reenactment of The Great Summer of Bickering that we had last year with the boys. So I’ve decided I’m going to be proactive this summer instead of reactive like I have been in the past. I’ve worked with a kindness chart with the boys sporadically, but I think I have some ideas to make it even better. And a printable for you!
I had a conversation with my mom last week about the summer, coming up with some sort of schedule I’ll never follow through with, and general panic about the boys being together for countless hours on end. Then I had a revelation. I could walk into this time together rolling my eyes or I can look at it as an opportunity to teach them. This time that they are home together as kids could very well determine how they treat each others as adults. I want to teach them to be kind and respectful to their parents, each other, and everyone they come in contact with.
I’m always nervous about posting disciplinary tactics and ideas because, as you know, the opinion spectrum is quite broad. Please be nice to me if you strongly disagree, ok?
This is our new kindness chart for the kids. I tried to make it prettier than my rudimentary, hand-drawn rainbow one that I have had on the fridge for quite awhile! If you want to add your child’s name on the printable, I used 17 percent opacity black for the names.
Click for high-res image.
Here is how we currently use the chart, though I change it frequently. I’m finding that positive and negative reinforcement together in this way are working well. Feel free to adjust and add to it to make it work best for your family.
1.Print chart and hang in a family area. I used mini clothespins to mark the number.
2. Explain why respect matters to the family and that this is a kindness chart, not just a behavioral chart.
3. Start on 10 each day. Take points away for things like mocking, talking back, taking toys a sibling is playing with, calling names, losing their temper. (I dock a point immediately for actions that are really out of line and give a warning for smaller things. If the warning isn’t working, they loose a point. The chart doesn’t work if you let them get away with thing after thing, but if you remain calm and stick to your guns they will quickly see you as a woman of your word.)
4. When a child earns a 9 or 10 for three days, he or she gets a reward (more on this below). The days do not have to be consecutive.
5. If a child is on 6 or below he has to go bed early. I’m doing 10 minutes for each point right now. This is a big incentive! Being the only kid going to bed is a big deal to them. (If this is the first time sending a child to bed early, he will probably throw a huge fit initially. But hold firm, Mom, because the next time you give a early bed warning he’ll believe you!) This summer I might also not let them play with the neighbor kids if they aren’t above a certain number. It all depends on what motivates the child.
6. You can choose to give points back if you see a genuine act of kindness or helpfulness. Sometimes I give them a point if they can tell me three things they love about their brother or sister who they’ve been unkind to. (But I’ve recently had to stop giving points back because they would do something awful followed by a fake apology so they wouldn’t lose a point. Or not take docking points seriously because they thought they could easily earn them back. Psychological roller coaster, right?)
I’m not sure why I thought laminators were financially out of reach, but when I found out there are some for $25 I was ecstatic. Now I feel the need to laminate everything. Including this chart. I use this laminator in the 12″ size.
Anyway, if you laminate the chart, you can use a dry erase marker on it and change it up as needed. You could also tally the 9s and 10s. Please ignore my creepy smiley face on top. I got a little out of control.
Now, let’s talk about prizes.
I haven’t offered prizes in the past, but I wanted some special incentives for the summer. Normally they can have a small treat after dinner if they’re on 10. Or maybe stay up 10 minutes later or pick the show they watch in the evening. I kind of made it up as I went along, which I don’t think was incredibly effective, but still better than nothing.
So this summer I’ve decided to make a treasure box! I have this old trunk I bought years ago for super cheap at an estate sale. It’s perfect for a treasure box, so I put it in my room (out of their view for temptation reasons) and filled it with prizes from the Dollar Tree. There are 40 prizes, so it cost $40. I didn’t want to spend a crazy amount of money or get extravagant, just give them a small reward for having a sweet heart. My kids pretty much only get toys on Christmas and birthday, so they think this is great.
If you decide to do this, be sure to look outside the toy aisle! Think about tools, flashlights, books, office supplies and of course the craft section. My kids like the fake birds, bird houses, their own shovels, seeds, those dumb towels that fold up in a small shape. Get creative.
If you’ve read my blog before you might be thinking, “Kate, aren’t you always preaching about keeping junk out of the house?” Yeah, I am. But I’m willing to have these 40 pieces of plastic floating around my house for awhile if it means my kids will be nice to each other and my blood pressure will stay at a reasonable level. I’m hoping this is a lesson that will settle into their hearts and cultivate kindness. Now, when you see me hollering at them in the park, you can remind me of this.
How do to teach kindness to your kids? Do you have any summer strategies to share? Please share with me. I need all the help I can get.
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