Stars ‘N’ Strikes

After a particularly shiteful weekend away with the kids that may or may not have included a lot of yelling and an eight-year old sitting up a tree in his undies, I decided it was time to introduce a new reward/discipline system.

At various stages, we’d tried the star system, time outs, rewards, bribes, ranting and so on and so on. While each had enjoyed some small level of success, none had delivered any long-term behavioral change. So on the way home, I created Stars ‘N’ Strikes.

For me, one of the biggest issues of disciplining kids is the inevitable empty-threat period.

You know the one. You say you’re going to count to three and you end up counting to 300 in a combination of ones, twos, two-and-a-halves and two-and-three-quarters.

The way that Stars ‘N’ Strikes works counters the need for such nonsense and idle threats.

Everything is instant. Instant rewards, Instant punishment. No more threats.

Any good behaviour gets a star. Any bad behaviour gets a strike. Three strikes and you lose a star.

Use your manners – get a star. Clear the table – get a star. Have an actual conversation with one of your parents – get a star.

Forget your manners – get a strike. Take too long to switch off the TV – get a strike. Be mean to your sister – get a strike. Leave your stuff around the house – get a strike.

Easy to win, easy to lose. No threats. No mucking around. Just action.

…one of the biggest issues of disciplining kids is the inevitable empty-threat period.

We set a new rule where things like screens were no longer a privilege, they needed to be earned. So the kids now needed five stars to get access to the screens. The kids weren’t happy with this at first but once they understood that it was really easy to get to five stars they settled down and got on with it. When they got to ten stars, they got some kind of reward.

Because feedback is instant, a few important things happened. Firstly, the kids got to see that bad and good behaviour has instant effects. There’s no nagging anymore and there’s no delay in understanding what is expected and what is unexpected in terms of their behaviour.

Secondly, meltdowns were virtually eliminated because you don’t get the sudden big punishments for little things that have tipped you over the edge.

We decided we’d have a few big things that would give you three strikes. For us, it was things like bad language.

The chart went on the little whiteboard on the fridge and the response was basically instant. Behaviour improved literally overnight and the entire mood of the house changed for the better.

I’ll compile some of the more noteworthy reactions from the kids in another post but in the meantime why not give it a go. It might just save some frustration and bring some peace and co-operation to your house.


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