The Discipline Armoury: Tip 18 – Happy Face Cards

Tip 1, Tip 2, Tip 3, Tip 4, Tip 5, Tip 6, Tip 7, Tip 8, Tip 9, Tip 10, Tip 11, Tip 12, Tip 13, Tip 14, Tip 15, Tip 16, Tip 17.

Happy Face Cards

This is an interesting idea.  It’s a little like the sticker chart or the star chart but different.  Let’s just state for the record that the sticker chart has never really worked for Gavin.  However, it would be interesting to see if this works for him.

How do the Happy Face Cards idea work?  Here’s how Pantley describes it:

  1. Make a list of your top 3-5 rules.  e.g. no hurting people, do what Mummy and Daddy tells you to do, no tantrums, no screaming.  Hang the list up on the wall at your child’s eye level at a location where he spends most of the day.
  2. Cut up 3″ x 5″ cards.  On one side, draw a happy face.  On the other side, draw a sad face.  Start with 10 happy faces and eventually you can slowly reduce the number to five.
  3. Hang the happy faces – happy face side up – near the rules.  Tell your child that every morning they will all be happy faces.  Every time your child breaks a rule, one face will change to a sad face.
  4. Each day after dinner, count the number of happy faces remaining with your child.

For some children, this is enough to motivate them to improve their behaviour without having any reward attached.  You can also offer a reward for each happy face remaining.  For instance, if there are five happy faces remaining, your child can pick out five books to read at bed time; or he can have five small marshmallows.

Pantley warns that sometimes your child can have a meltdown when you change a happy face to a sad face.  During such instances, stand firm but be calm when you tell your child, “I’m sorry this happened but because you [insert behaviour] there is now a sad face.”  The negative reaction from your child shows that the system is working he is unhappy about the consequences of his misbehaviour.  Over time it will lead to improved behaviour.

Stick with the chart for about a month.  When you feel that your child is no longer breaking the rules, you can remove the chart.  If the misbehaviours return, simply put the chart back up again.  Before starting this system, talk to your child and explain what the chart is all about and how it works.  Make sure your child is clear on the concept.

I know what’s top on my list for this chart: “Do what Mummy and Daddy tells you to do”.

Have you ever tried something like this before?  How successful was it for you?

The Discipline Armoury: Tip 19 – Time Out

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of (a website on parenting, education, child development) and (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

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