The Age of Entitlement: Fact or Fiction?

Saturday, March 31, 2012 6 comments
I,m a teenager now

Entitlement. One quick Google search on that term will produce a plethora of rants and gripes about "these kids today," claiming they are selfish, self-centered brats who, as one article claims, "say, 'I deserve what I want, when I want it, without earning it, and I’m bitter if I don’t get it'. They believe the world is theirs to manipulate for their own pleasurable purposes." Some sociologists are apparently deeming this the Age of Entitlement.

What a novel idea - that kids today are so much worse than the generations before them. An excerpt from the above link:

When students walk into Greer's classroom wearing T-shirts that say things such as "Here comes trouble," that's exactly what she thinks.She's been teaching for 20 years — from preschool to high school — but every year, the attitudes she encounters just keep getting worse. "Ten years ago, the children were more respectful; more prone to say 'please' and 'thank you,' " Greer says. "It's no longer an expectation that children say these things coming from home — the social development is going backward."
But as Alfie Kohn states here, "spoiled rotten is a timeless complaint."
"...That’s why no generation of teens and young adults has ever been as self-centered as this one. Take it from journalist Peter Wyden, the cover of whose book on the subject depicts a child lounging on a divan eating grapes while Mom fans him and Dad holds an umbrella to protect him from the sun: It’s become “tougher and tougher to say ‘no’ [to children] and make it stick,” he insists. 
Or listen to the lament of a parent who blames progressive child development experts for the fact that her kids now seem to believe “they have priority over everything and everybody.” 
Or consider a pointed polemic published in The Atlantic. Sure, the author concedes, kids have always been pleasure seekers, but longtime teachers report that what we’re currently witnessing “is different from anything we have ever seen in the young before.” Parents teach “nothing wholeheartedly” and things come so easily to children nowadays that they fail to develop any self-discipline. Forget about traditional values: Today, it’s just a “culte du moi.”
Powerful stuff. Except now that I think about it, those three indictments may not offer the best argument against today’s parents and their offspring. That’s because they were published in 1962, 1944, and 1911, respectively.
The revelation that people were saying almost exactly the same things a century ago ought to make us stop talking in mid-sentence and sit down – hard."  
Watch this short YouTube clip of Alfie speaking on this subject, where he proposes:
"The idea that the #1 problem in our society with parenting is that we are too permissive and spoiled brats are running wild is essentially a fiction, a huge exaggeration of reality, in order to rationalize still more of the controlling methods already in abundance.  Yes, there are some kids, in some places more than others, who do run wild and make noise in public places, and that's annoying, but for every child like that, there are hundreds of children who are restricted unnecessarily, yelled at, threatened by their parents, essentially bullied... That is the overwhelming reality of American parenting." 
 I know that was a long introduction, but let me get to my point. This post is directed toward all the adults who complain about the entitlement of children today.

Let's just say for a moment, for the sake of argument, that "all kids today" really are entitled, spoiled, selfish brats. Who is raising them? Permissive parents seem to be to "blame" for this "epidemic." We all remember LZ Granderson's rant on Curbing Spoiled Brats. I don't know about you, but everywhere I look, like Alfie says, I see children being bullied, yelled at, smacked, and overly controlled. I'm sure there are some permissive parents out there, but certainly not enough to cause such an "epidemic of entitlement." So what else could it be? We all know for a fact that parents set the example for their children. Perhaps the reason "that entitled brat" wants the new iPad and the most expensive shoes is just, well, because they're nice, and because their friends have them. By the way, that is the same reason their parents wanted that big new SUV and Coach purse. And, just a random thought here, perhaps if the parents would put down their gadgets and actually play with their children, the children wouldn't have the need for so many toys to occupy them. But the problem, they say, is that these brats want all these things without having to "work for it."

Have you taken any time at all to really think about what it is like to be a kid in today's society? Often raised in daycare (I'm not knocking any parents here, I realize it's necessary for many families just so they can stay afloat in this economy), put into the assembly line that has become public education where they do enormous amounts of work at a much earlier age than we used to do, then bring more work home to do "in their free time" which rarely exists for today's over-scheduled and stressed children. Then, of course, they have to deal with the well-publicized bullying epidemic and the typical societal pressures of adolescence. Believe me, kids are working. Perhaps these adults have forgotten what it is like to be a child, but it isn't all kittens and rainbows. And if they're not "pulling their share in the family" whose fault is that? Theirs? Or the parents? Again, we can't blame the kids here. If you don't teach your child responsibility, you hardly have the right to gripe that he is irresponsible.

To lump ALL kids into this entitled category is more than unfair; it's prejudice. Not surprising considering the fact that children are the only class of people we can still openly ridicule and dislike, so of course all the bitterness gets dumped on the children. And before you go hating on these few entitled children, consider their world for a moment. The Secret Pain of the Entitled Child pretty much nails it in this excerpt:
"...Kids who are entitled almost invariably lack an engaged relationship with their parents...Entitled children, and grown-ups, always suffer from alienation, lack of trust and restless unhappiness. They are forever striving for the next free thing, but never feeling satisfied; it’s like expensive charity events where wealthy celebrities relish the gift bag, as if they actually need more swag. Doesn’t this suggest a poverty of spirit that is forever hungry for more free stuff, but cannot be filled because the vessel of the self is a colander as opposed to a bowl?
In the interest of compassion, I invite us to re-think entitled people, particularly children, as the true emotional “homeless”—as those without a psychological pot to piss in, which may be why they so readily piss others off—they don’t see themselves as fortunate, they see themselves as hurt urchins in Les Misérables. The anger the entitled evoke in us is the anger they feel at being secretly inadequate; if we confront them on their entitlement they get angry because they feel that they really are inadequate, unlovable and unable to do better. This is the great distortion that they carry, and which must heal, before the surly mask can be safely dropped.

While each of us who encounters an entitled child (and sometimes we encounter them in our own homes, in our own kids) may feel like we are putting but a drop in the ocean, much less the bucket, if we work to soften our gaze and see to the vulnerable core of the snarky misanthrope, like water on rock, our love just might wear down their self-hate." 

Here's an epidemic that isn't talked about nearly enough, and what I consider the real entitlement epidemic. Self-centered, narcissistic, entitled adults. You know the ones; they're the same ones who rant about today's self-centered, entitled children. I'm talking to you now, entitled adults. Let me get one thing straight. I am NOT a permissive parent. I will absolutely teach my child what manners are and how to use them. I will teach my children what is socially appropriate and why they need to respect others. I will not allow my child to kick the back of your seat on the plane or run around your table at the restaurant, BUT I will also not force my child to robotically "sit down and shut up" just so YOU don't have to be inconvenienced, because let's get real; that's what you really want, isn't it? To not have to be inconvenienced in any way? Because you're an adult, you think you are entitled to not see a woman breastfeeding her child if you don't want to. Because you're an adult, you are entitled to a plane ride or a movie where you don't have to hear a child cry. Because you're an adult, you are entitled to a nice, quiet dinner out where you shouldn't have to put up with the laughter or loudness of someone else's kids. Here's some news for you. My child has just as much right to enjoy his plane ride/movie/meal/shopping trip as you do. Let me say that again loud and clear.

My child has just as much right to enjoy his plane ride/movie/meal/shopping trip as you do.

Do you know why? Because my child is a human being, too.


30 Days of Play: April

Tuesday, March 27, 2012 No comments
Easter Eggs

Ready for 30 more days of fun?

1.  Spring is here! Do a craft today!  Here are lots of spring craft ideas.

2.  Fill up water balloons and head outside!

3.  Gather some buckets and shovels and head to the sandbox. Don't have one? Just fill a large container with sand and make your own. See this one. 

4.  Grab the sidewalk chalk and head outdoors for some hopscotch or driveway art!

5.  Pack a picnic and enjoy some time at the park.

6.  Go fishing!

7.  If there are April showers, here are 30 indoor activities!

8.  Make a sensory tub for your kid today. Here are tub ideas.

9.  Visit a museum or zoo, somewhere you don't ordinarily go.

10. If you celebrate Easter, here are some cute printables. 

11.  Plant a flower for each child and let them water it and watch it grow.

12.  Gather some rocks and paint them. Use them to decorate your garden.

13.  Make this cute thumbprint bug craft. Construction paper, paint,
markers, and cotton balls.

14.  Go on a bug hunt.

15.  Play Angry Birds with water balloons and sidewalk chalk.

16.  Get some bathtub paint or make your own with shaving cream and food coloring and let them paint at bath time.

17. Make superhero masks!

18. Rent a DVD and make popcorn. Movie night!!

19.  Bake cookies and make bunny faces on them!

20.  Play an outdoor game today, like freeze tag or dodge ball.

21.  Make oobleck  (1-1/2 cups corn starch, 1 cup water, food coloring).

22.  Build a fort outside or pitch a tent. Pretend to be camping. Or really go camping!

23.  Fly a kite!

24.  Cuddle up together and read some books.

25.  Draw a picture for your child showing how much you love him/her! Tape it to the bedroom door.

26.  Dye Easter eggs. Here are some natural dyes.

27.  Make sock puppets and put on a play.

28.  Make this cute and easy bunny craft with a paper plate, glue, cotton balls, googly eyes, pipe cleaners, and construction paper.

29.  Walk barefoot in the grass and pick flowers to fill a vase.

30.  Dress up and take a family photo!






Six Positive Strategies To Reduce and Avoid Whining. - Guest post by Ariadne, a.k.a. mudpiemama

Tuesday, March 20, 2012 No comments

Does hearing your child whine annoy you or stress you out? Is it the pitch or the intensity or the timing of the whine that just makes you want to have a magic switch to turn it off? Rest assured, you are not alone in these feelings. With a two year old, a four year old and soon to be six year old in the house, the potential for whining around here is pretty high. Working with positive alternatives to punishment and time-outs, we have found six gentle and positive strategies to help reduce and even avoid whining.

1. Understanding: We watched a movie as a family over the weekend and my four year old kept whining and asking us to turn the movie off. Realizing he was probably scared because some very cute animals were in distress, I offered to move seats so he could be closer to me. The whining ceased and we finished the movie with no more interruptions. If a child is whining when trying something new, it could mean he is feeling scared or anxious. If the whine is coming close to nap or bed time, it’s likely just tiredness. If a child is routinely whining over the same tasks, she could be feeling powerless or overwhelmed. Children also whine as a means to get their needs met, in other words, when they need help or attention and are having a hard time expressing themselves. Knowing the reason a child is whining can help choose the best strategy to deal and move forward.

2. Focus beyond the whine: Instead of focusing on the feeling I get when I hear the whining, for example getting annoyed or angry, I try to focus on my child and the task at hand. I often find myself taking a few deep breaths and then imagine the whining disappearing so I can just tune in only what needs to get done. It can be really difficult at first and might not always work, but being conscious of how I feel when the whining is going on also helps me better curb my reactions and makes me less likely to over-react.

3. Be firm and kind: Recently my five year old wanted a magazine from the newsstand because it had a cool toy attached to it. “Can I have that magazine?” he asked. “Do you remember what we decided about those?” I asked back. “They are bad quality, break and then I get mad.” He replied. “But pleeeeeease, mom, please, really, I want that one.” He continued. “C’mom, mom, you are being stupid, please just let me have it, c’mon, pleease.” I was determined to stick to our agreement so I asked “What was our deal again? “Crap quality, I know, I know, nevermind.” He replied. Looking my son in the eye and with a gentle voice I added “I know that toy looks really cool. Maybe we can find a better quality one and you can add it to your wish list for your birthday.” My son wasn’t thrilled but the whining was over and we went on to finish our shopping trip. The more I stick to the limits we have previously set, the easier it is for both of us to have these conversations and get over the whining. Bonus: On the drive back home from the back seat of the car came a very sweet and unprompted “sorry I said you were being stupid mom, the toy looked cool.” To which I answered “I appreciate the apology, and I know you really wanted it. Let’s investigate at the toy store sometime about a better quality one, ok?”

4. Find a solution: When whining is happening at the same time every day or over the same issue, examining the situation and finding a solution can be very helpful. My daughter used to drop the soap in the sink when washing her hands. Sometimes, unable to get the soap back out of the sink, she would start a high pitch non-verbal whine. After noticing that this problem was not going to get any easier because it was just too frustrating for a 20 month old to understand the soap was very slippery, we got her a child friendly soap pump that she can operate on her own now and the whining is gone.

5. Adjust expectations: Tommy at age 4 was dawdling around in the morning, taking a long time to get dressed. There was always an issue, said his mother, the shirt was wrinkly, the pants were too hard to button, the socks were not fitting over his feet. The morning whine went on and on and spilled over to the breakfast table where the milk was too heavy to pour out alone, the toast too hot and so on… Tommy had a new sibling and mom, who was very busy with a newborn, forgot that Tommy at age 4 still might need help and encouragement with certain tasks. Tommy’s mother and I brainstormed possibilities and agreed that maybe expectations needed to be adjusted. Tommy’s mother started helping Tommy pick out an outfit the evening before and place it in the baby’s room so Tommy could dress close to mom and baby and get help right away with those tricky buttons or socks, eliminating the need to sit and whine while hoping for some attention from mom. The family also made sure to go back to having special time every day with Tommy when baby was napping. The extra time and closeness to mom in the morning routine helped Tommy feel more connected and less likely to whine when he needed help or was feeling pushed aside.

6. Laugh a little: Using humor with preschoolers can be a very effective way to reconnect. When my middle child was 3 years old, at the end of the day, getting into pajamas seemed like the most difficult task in the universe. Sitting on the floor he would hold his jammie pants, pout and start a quiet whine “this is too complitated for me” that would grow louder and louder. One evening I made a puppet using his pajamas and said with a silly voice “c’mon, c’mon, Nicolas, you know you want to get these jammies on!” The giant smile at this silly puppet and voice was priceless. Next he asked “Can you say that about my jammie shirt?” So I did, and for a few days, he would ask for a quick jammie puppet, which he then started doing all by himself and the whining stopped.

What are some positive ways you have found to help your child move beyond whining?

****************************************************************************
Bio: Ariadne, a.k.a mudpiemama, lives with her three children, husband and two boxers in Switzerland. She is a Certified Positive Discipline Parenting Educator and writer at Authentic Parenting and Positive Parenting Connection. Ariadne is passionate about all things parenting and chocolate. Like what you are reading? Find more on Facebook www.facebook.com/positiveparentingconnection and on the web: www.positiveparentingconnection.net

Building a Positive Self-Concept

Monday, March 19, 2012 4 comments


Self-concept can be defined as the view one has of herself and her abilities. A child’s self-concept begins to develop at birth. It begins with how adults respond to her. Parents and caregivers create a positive emotional bond with an infant through warm and caring interactions with a lot of eye contact and touch. This positive emotional bond with parents and caregivers promotes a child’s healthy self-concept. It is the basis of a relationship in which the child feels the parents’ and caregivers’ love, acceptance, and respect.

As the child grows, her ability to interact successfully with her environment promotes a healthy self-concept.  This is critically important in early childhood. The development of a positive self-concept at an early age empowers the child to feel competent, try new things, and strive for success. As parents, we have the opportunity (and responsibility) to help build a positive self-concept in our children.

So, how can you tell if your child has a positive or negative self-concept? Children with a positive self-concept have a "can do" attitude. They believe in their ability to complete tasks without help, or with minimal help. They do not exhibit problematic behaviors as doing so would be against their positive self-concept.

Children with a negative self-concept have a "can't do" attitude. They become frustrated easily and give up on difficult tasks. These children may exhibit behavior problems if "naughty" or "bad" is a part of their self concept.

What can parents do to help their children develop a positive self-concept?

1. Be mindful of the language you use to describe your children. Do not label them with words such as 'lazy', 'naughty', 'aggressive', or 'stupid.' Instead, look for and point out your child's strengths.

2. Provide them with opportunities for success. Give your child age-appropriate tasks she can complete on her own. Having done so will give her a sense of pride and help build a "can do" mentality and positive self-concept.

3. Show your children that you have faith in their goodness and in their abilities. This is a matter of language choice. For example, if your toddler, out of frustration, hits another child, you might say, "You naughty girl! How can you be so mean! I can't believe you hit him! You're in big trouble!" Or, you could say, "You got frustrated and hit him. It's not ok to hit. I know you didn't mean to hurt him. How can you express your frustration in different ways? Would you like a stress ball to squeeze?" Which do you think leads to a positive self-concept?

Alternatively,let's use the example that your child is working on a puzzle and is having trouble getting it to fit together properly. If you see frustration building, you might say, "Looks like you can't do that puzzle. Why don't you forget about that one and try something easier?" Or you can offer encouragement and help. "You've gotten several pieces in the right place. If you keep working on it, I'm sure you'll get it. Would you like me to help you with a couple pieces?" The second leads to success while the first leads to failure.

4. Give her the opportunity to explore her environment, ask questions without feeling like a nuisance, and engage in make-believe play activities.

Failure is also a learning tool for children, and we don't want to shield them from all failures. In fact, children with positive self-concepts who experience failure can accept mistakes or weaknesses because they know they are overall competent.

COMPETENCE = CONFIDENCE
Parents sometimes think they must point out mistakes and often correct the child in order to make her competent. This is dangerously false. Constant criticism erodes self-confidence as you're always pointing out their failures and weaknesses. When you emphasize what your children do right, however, children will feel good about themselves and continue to strive to meet that positive self-concept.

Giving your child opportunities to do things for himself will help him to develop that 'can-do' attitude. Allowing him to dress himself (no matter how mismatched or odd his choices are), putting things within his reach, such as his plates and utensils in a low drawer, handy snack packs on a low shelf in the refrigerator, clothes hanging on a low rack so that he may choose for himself, and step stools so he may reach the sink himself, will all help aid in making him fee competent, and therefore, confident.

Allowing him the freedom to try and climb the tree or ride the bike without training wheels will also help him discover his abilities. Hovering parents inhibit competence in young children. Have faith in their abilities while remaining close by to offer assistance if they ask.

THE EFFECTS OF BEHAVIOR:
Misbehavior is the usual outcome of discouragement and a poor self-concept.
It is so much more satisfying to behave properly that most children would if they had confidence in their ability to succeed.
Encouragement is not the same as praise. Encouragement recognizes his capabilities and expresses faith in your child as he is. Use words that encourage, not discourage your children.

Words that Encourage:
You can do it!
I have faith in you.
You're doing well.
I see you put a lot of effort into that.

Words that Discourage:
Be careful. You usually color outside the lines.
That's probably too hard for you.
You can do better that that!
Most of the room is clean, but you left your socks out.

Be careful with your parental power. While it is important to establish and enforce limits, when parents try to dominate their children, it strips them of self-respect and erodes their self-esteem. When self-respect is lost (or not developed), the potential for violence and deviant behavior is fostered. Children who
feel powerless often behave destructively towards themselves and/or others. This acting out is an undesirable attempt at gaining some control over their environment. As a parent, use your power wisely while demonstrating respect and appreciation for your child's growing need for self-determination and a strong self-concept.

A healthy self-concept is the foundation for the positive development and over-all well-being of a child. When a child has a healthy self-concept, he sees himself as being loved, loving, and valuable. A child with a healthy self-concept is also better able to reach his full potential. He does better in school. He is better able to set goals for himself and make decisions. He is more willing to learn new things and try new activities. With a healthy self-concept, a child has better relationships with family members and friends. He can control his behavior and get along with others.

REFERENCES:
http://dentoncounty.com/dept/famconsciences/pdffiles/promote.pdf
http://www.highreach.com/highreach_cms/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=eEoXBIdCNXk%3D&tabid=106
http://leon.ifas.ufl.edu/FYCS/Families%20and%20Children/self%20concept.pdf


Rethinking the Sticker Chart - Guest Post by Kelly Bartlett

Friday, March 2, 2012 6 comments
Many parents use sticker charts in the name of positive discipline. Sticker charts are a popular form of non-punitive discipline, and they do work…to a point. They do allow parents to teach children behaviors like doing chores or exemplifying kindness to others without yelling, spanking, or threatening punishments. But using sticker charts as a way to encourage children to achieve behavioral goals sends a surprising hidden message to kids about behavior.
The appeal of sticker charts is understandable; they provide a quick way to give kids an incentive to work and are seemingly “positive”. It’s easy to say, “When you do [certain tasks] you’ll get a sticker. Remember you’re working towards [a bigger prize], so get those stickers on there.”
While rewards are appealing to children, and they do motivate kids to behave in certain ways, that motivation is not actually aimed at the behavioral goal. External rewards like stickers take away from a child’s internal sense of what’s right. Children aren’t behaving in certain ways because it’s the right thing to do, but instead because they want to earn more stickers. Alfie Kohn, author of Punished by Rewards states, “The more we want our children to want to do something, the more counterproductive it will be to reward them for doing it.”
The intent parents have in using sticker charts is for children to learn challenging behaviors (for example, learning to use the potty or being responsible for household chores). It’s common to think, “We’re teaching our kids to work towards these goals,” when using a sticker chart really says, “We’re teaching our kids to work towards these rewards.” There is a difference between helping kids work toward overcoming challenges and teaching them to work towards a reward for overcoming those challenges. A sticker chart, despite its positive intentions, actually functions against what parents are aiming for.
It’s true that children will grow up to be adults working in a world in which they’ll be rewarded for their work in the form of a paycheck. But isn’t it nice when people know how—and want to—work hard whether or not they get (or despite the size of) a paycheck? This is what parents can teach kids at a young age; to develop their sense of internal motivation to do what’s right simply because it’s right.
Sticker charts also make it easy for kids to opt out of their challenges; to say, “Nah. That’s OK if I don’t get a sticker today.” When, really, appropriate behavior is not an option. It’s an expectation.
What happens when kids don’t care about the stickers anymore? What happens if the reward becomes meaningless? Well, parents could adjust the system so it’s more enticing; require fewer stickers, or make the reward bigger and better. But then they’re exerting their energy into the sticker chart system, not on actually teaching their kids about how to be successful. In teaching children, parents should be aiming for a deeper sense of self than earning stickers. Helping kids face challenging moments are opportunities for parents and children to connect, communicate, and to relate to each other on an emotional level; with a sticker chart, those are missed opportunities.
It’s the relationship and interactions between parents and children that are the real key to guiding kids to achieve their goals. Using a chart takes away from a child’s sense of pride in their accomplishments. Instead of saying, “I did it, I am capable,” kids are saying, “I did it, I got a sticker,” and they are focused on the sticker, the next sticker, and the reward. In other words, not their personal accomplishment.

So, what does replace a sticker chart for teaching kids behavior? It depends on the goals that are on the chart. Some parents use them for chores, and they include things like “make your bed,” “clean your room,” “feed the dog,” “put your clothes away,” etc. For those types of tasks, Jane Nelsen, author of Positive Discipline, offers a few parenting tools that work more effectively than stickers for teaching long-term habits:
Make the task fun; turn it into a game.
Teamwork; do it together to model cooperation and keep each other company.
Limited choices; break the task down and offer limited choices so kids are not overwhelmed.
Offer empathy; let kids know their feelings are valid and important.
Show faith; remind children of their capabilities, “I know you can do this.”
Get input; ask child what would help to get the job done.
Take enough time to properly teach; model, demonstrate, teach, re-teach, and check for understanding.
Not all of those tools are applicable to every task, and some tasks go more smoothly with a combination of a few of the tools at once. But all of them help kids work towards a bigger goal than working for a reward. They invite positive interaction between parent & child, and they celebrate a child’s effort and sense of confidence. That is the motivation for continuing to do their chores; children feel capable, respected, and valued.
Other types of goals parents may include with the use of stickers charts are behavioral ones such as “demonstrate confidence,” “show selflessness,” “try new foods,” or “play by yourself.” They are challenging behaviors with which parents may see their children struggle and want to encourage kids to overcome. Instead of offering stickers, parents can notice when the behaviors do happen and encourage them to happen again with these kinds of Positive Discipline tools:
Acknowledge without evaluating; search out those moments when a child accomplished something challenging and recognize that achievement by acknowledging the effort. Instead of saying, “Good job,” it’s more like celebrating: “Wow, you did it!”
Communicate; ask curiosity questions to draw out their experience. “I noticed you asked that boy who was alone if he wanted to play…How was that?” “How did you feel?” “What was hard about it?” “What did you like?” “How do you feel now?” In other words, help kids process their experience by asking them about it rather than telling them, “Good job for doing that and here’s your sticker.”
Offer encouragement versus praise; help kids internalize the value of their accomplishment by saying encouraging things like: You worked hard! You must be proud of yourself. I trust your judgment. You figured it out for yourself! You can decide what is best for you. I have faith in you to learn from mistakes. I love you no matter what.

What about kids who really like stickers and just think they’re a lot of fun? Certified Positive Discipline Trainer Glenda Montgomery says that for these children, parents may want to, indeed, use a sticker chart but implement it differently. “Instead of a parent presenting a child with a sticker after a task is accomplished, the chart can be totally child-led.” That is, leave it completely up to the child to decide if and when a sticker should be added, and let the child just enjoy the chart for the fun of the stickers. This way, and especially in the absence of any larger prizes, children are internally processing the value of their actions and developing their own sense of pride.
Many parents use sticker charts because they don’t know what else to do. For those who don’t want to use punitive discipline like yelling, threatening or using time-outs, stickers seem like a straightforward, effective, “positive” discipline tool. But they undermine a parent’s intention to teach children authentic motivation, and they take away from a child’s ability to develop a sense of self-efficacy. While the positive discipline tools are definitely more time-consuming to implement, they’re infinitely more valuable. They work to teach kids the life-long skills that parents value and help families develop connected relationships in the process. They convey the message that parents originally intend; that we work to overcome challenges not to get stickers and a reward, but because doing so helps us grow, strengthen, and become highly self-confident.

 Kelly Bartlett is the author of Parenting From Scratch. She is a Certified Positive Discipline Educator, an API leader, and an associate editor of The Attached Family magazine. Her freelance articles have appeared in parenting publications nationwide. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, children, and way too many pets.