Sticker Charts are Screwing You

I wanted to talk today about a common misconception that a lot of my HSC parent clients face when they think about teaching their child responsibility and follow-through (and to just freakin' get ready on time).

Look, as someone who grew up getting paid for her A’s on report cards, it’s hard for me to write this because cash in the bank felt good in my childhood/teen years, (despite having my first job at age 12). But what we as parents don’t often realize, is that these rewards (be it stickers, money, prize boxes or praise) actually lead to long term struggle.

The logic makes sense on the surface. Work hard, get a reward, work hard again, get another reward, etc. Parents suppose that it will help build a connection that hard work reaps benefits, makes you feel good inside, and builds self-esteem and a sense of feeling capable. What this pattern actually leads to, however, is the exact opposite.

Highly sensitive kids are especially vulnerable to struggling with cutting themselves slack if they don’t get the highly desirable fancy reward (whether that’s recognition or a tangible item) and that slashes the very internal motivation that you’re working to build. Remember, your HSC feels their feelings deeply. This means that when they don’t reach a coveted goal… DEVASTATION is a result.

Unfortunately, most mainstream parenting resources hailed by school professionals, pediatricians and even other therapists and parent coaches include some sort of reward system. Hell, it was only several years ago that I stopped designing rewards charts in session with my child clients and their parents in the therapy office. Boy was I wrong about that common logic.

Now, I’ve cracked the code for motivating HSCs. By the time my clients come to work with me they’ve learned that reward systems don’t work for HSCs. They’re committed to going against the grain and open to trying new approaches. And they’re on a time crunch. They don’t have a year to work on getting their kid to shower consistently—of course not, the kid is smelly now! So we address it swiftly.

When we focus on what DOES work to shift meltdown behavior, clients notice their kid no longer compares their successes to their siblings, ‘sneaky’ behavior diminishes, and children start to take ownership of their responsibilities into their own hands.

If you want support managing how to shift your child's behavior from the inside out, click the link below to book a call.


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