It's all about choices

I'm often asked what kind of behavior plan I used in my classroom and/or with my boys. My answer is the same for both... none. I did put behavior plans in place for children who needed it to focus their behavior. It was usually a star chart which went home everyday for a parent's signature. I felt if your behavior was severe enough that I needed to put you on a plan, then your parents needed to know the good, the bad, and the ugly of your day. With my sons I have on occasion put them on behavior plans to help refocus their behavior.

I always told the parents of my students that I do not reward for meeting expectation. In society you do not get rewarded for doing the bare minimum so why should you in the classroom? (I didn't tell the parent that part). I felt that every child should meet the classroom expectations and not be looking for a reward for behaving the way they are expected to behave. As a teacher, I often had the children who came in with behavior problems. Yep, I was the teacher who got "that kid". I treated that child fairly and set them up to exceed the expectations of many. I actually had parents of children with behavior issues ask for me (oh joy!).

In my house, as I did in school, we talk a lot about choices. My boys know that everything they do is a choice. The choose to behave or they choose to misbehave. If they choose to misbehave, they choose to deal with the consequence of that action. For the most part, we use time-out in our house, as well as other logical consequences (ie,... you misuse a toy, you can't use the toy; you make a mess, you clean it up; you upset your brother, you make him feel better). When I deal with behavior issues with my sons we always have this conversation:

What did you do wrong? (or why are you in time out so something on that idea)
What should you have been doing? (What would have been a better choice?)
What are you going to do to make it better?

They then have to say sorry to me. They get a hug. Then they have to go fix the problem. It focuses the problem on them. What did you do? What should you have done? How are you going to make it better?

I choose to not reward my sons for behaving the way the way I expect them to behave. I'm not saying I've never rewarded the boys. I also often reward my son s with things like tv or computer time or getting to pick the game at game time. Just as when they misbehave I usually take tv, computer and things like that away first.

I'm not saying that rewards are bad. I am saying that, in my opinion, when you always give them something for meeting the minimum expectations, what is the incentive to go above and beyond? What if they do, do they get a bigger prize? When do they learn to behave for the sake of behaving. For doing what is right because it is the right thing to do, not because they are getting rewards and attention for doing what is expected anyway.

Feel free to disagree, agree, or whatever. I'm always game for a good debate.(o:



  1. I really wish I could share your blog with a friend without her getting offended. She thinks that her children that behave badly are good. Your logic on this whole situation is the same as mine, do not reward where none is needed or warranted. She actually went out and bought "extra" ds game systems in case they broke theirs so she had back-ups and this was at a time they had no money. Parents like this floor me because not only are you rewarding bad behavior but you are giving the child nothing to strive for in life. She also buys them things for throwing tantrums in stores at 5 and 8, my son would never do that at 2 - your blog is a blessing to read that other parents/teachers think the same as I do :) Thanks Lori!

  2. I totally agree with you Lori. I was the same way in my classroom and with Ryan here at home. I praise him andhe gets a little check mark on his hand when he does something well, but no tangible reward. He is very well-behaved and knows his limits. He gets the occasional reward for doing something well, but not every time he does something I expect him to do. That's just life. You're right about not getting things in real life when you meet expectation. I love your post!

  3. I agree too! I don't reward my kids for behavior that is expected. I like your conversation you have with your boys when they do something wrong. Sometimes I'm guilty of only telling them what they did wrong, not letting them figure out a good solution. Thanks for reminding me :)


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