Behavior Mod with Charts??


New Member
I have a question, and it may be better asked to our therapist, but I am very interested to hear what you all have to say about it, since many of you have surely faced the same dilemma...

I have heard about sticker charts, or rules posted, things of this sort. I have totally got the whole rewarding vs. loss of privileges thing, but the charts and tracking for the child is the part I have hesitated to try. Our difficult child is 12 years old, and even though she finds it appropriate to throw herself face down in our floor and throw a kicking and screaming tantrum (that VERY CLOSELY MIRRORS that of our three year old who is experimenting with temper tantrums at the APPROPRIATE age to do so), she is constantly complaining that we treat her like a two year old. I am sure that she would resist such charts, simply because we have similar things in place for our easy child's who are 3 and 5.

Is there another way of keeping track of her progress, in a way that is positive for everyone and in a place that she and we all see it on a regular basis??

Also, in trying the "positive reinforcement" approach, has anyone else ever encountered the problem that, even in simply trying to praise them for doing something good in an appropriate way, and letting them know that you noticed and appreciated it, can still cause them to rage?!?!?! I obviously have come to prepare myself for the rage anytime I ask her to do anything, even something as simple as putting on her shoes. But I found it very peculiar that praise and appreciation for good behavior would cause her to rage...

We have been very consistent with either taking away privileges or adding additional chores/writing assignments for negative behaviors, but we are very hesitant to point out the positives, becuase it creates all these problems, and we try very hard not to trigger her unnecessarily.

Also, I hear several of you talking about Basket A, Basket B, and Basket C, which I have caught on to being the level of priority for certain behaviors and a way to plan out how you want to "pick your battles". Is this something that you have learned in counseling sessions with your difficult child's, or is this something that you all have put together as a team?? I would like to get some more information on this method, as I feel it would be very beneficial to my husband and I to try something like this to prioritize our difficult child's behaviors.
The basket method is also explosive child method. There's a book you can buy on this website called "The Explosive Child". I bought it for my 12yo at the time, now 13 yo. It's a very good book and something I will try with him when he's released from Residential Treatment Center (RTC). Right now his behavior is at a level I cannot control and it's better for him to be at Residential Treatment Center (RTC). My difficult child rages like a 3 year old too.

I haven't tried charts with mine so I don't really have an opinion on them but I have tried leaving thank you notes on those yellow sticky papers. Usually I just thank him for doing a chore or being on time when he's leaving for school. Most of the time I wrote "Thanks for being such a great kid" or "I'm really glad you're my son". Of course this was when he was at home. He got the notes when he came home from school and sometimes he'd comment about them, sometimes not. He always read them. The other thing I've done with great success is brag about him to a friend or family member when he's within earshot. I act like he's not there and I sincerely tell my friend or mom how I'm proud of him for having a rage free week at home or school.

I have trouble with the reward side of it too. Our therapist asked me if I was enforcing consequence as well as reward and it dawned on me that I was so bent on getting him to accept the consequence I was paying no attention to rewards. Her suggestion was to get difficult child to name off a few rewards he would like & then I could hand those out as needed. Never had a chance to try that in our home but looking forward to it when he's released.

Sorry I couldn't be more helpful. I'm struggling through this too.


Active Member
Behavior mod and the collaborative problem solving approach - CPS - baskets etc are rather different and don't really combine.
A 12 yo is really a teenager so trying to use 'power' to control and manipulate behavior is pretty limited, ultimately it all depends how your child perceives what you are doing - praise can be perceived as stroking, manipulating , getting your child to do what you want. Limit setting can be done by reaching understandings and solving problems, working with the child rather than ' doing to' them. Here you are giving your child a voice , she feels understood , you are putting her concerns as well as yours on the table , you are being respectful.
Consistantcy is important only when you use behavior mod and making priveleges contingent on behavior. Consistantcy for me is
is focusing on communication, working together , solving problems by talking it through , solving problems by coming up with better solutions or asking for help or give and take.
Behavior mod defines the relationship between a kid and parent in economical terms , earning their attention and priveleges through good behavior.
The only time I recommend behavior mod is if the parent is sold on it and wants advice. The trick is to have only positive reinforcements , the negatives just escalate confrontation and it must be really easy to earn points or priveleges . Because it is so easy there is a snowball effect. The so called token economy system must be drawn up with input and consent of the kid.The problem is that you are relying on extrinsic motivation which impedes the development of internal motivation. And of course there are kids who see the whole thing as you trying to ' control them ' and they resist even more.
I believe that one has to step back , lower the rope, try and relax the atmosphere in the home and proactively deal with problems in their situational context and try with your child collaborate and find solutions. It is not easy and it takes time for a kid to ndevelop these skills and confidence in the system.



New Member
<span style='font-size: 14pt'> </span> <span style="color: #993399"> </span> <span style='font-family: Georgia'>my son was about the same age as your difficult child when his major depressive episode began. i found The Explosive Child far more effective for him than charting behaviors.

for me at least behavoir charts is just too much micromanaging. greene's methods were a broader overview & only focused on two...maybe three behaviors at a time. it took a lot of the tension our of our home.

you have to keep in mind that no program will give you instant results. it takes time & patience to alter behaviors.

my son would react to praise the same way your difficult child does. if i mentioned that he'd been cooperative for a day or two the days of he*l*l would ensue. later he was able to articulate that he was afraid he could not maintain the level of good behaviors so he'd take the easy route & just blow.



Active Member
I had great success with behavior modification (no charts though) but only after we'd put The Explosive Child principles into place. My child was also younger than yours at the time and I used it in limited situations to get over the biggest hurdles (severe anxiety) or for behaviors that were really important like brushing teeth. For an older kid discrete methods like marking a tally on the calendar might be better if you do it all.

When my kiddo was younger he responded very negative to parental praise. As parents of difficult child's we spend a lot of time trying to get them to cooperate and I think he felt like he was being manipulated.

If your difficult child is 12 and raging at every little request I'd go for The Explosive Child and really get a handle on that first.