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Calm the Chaos Newsletter

In store for you today:

  • Incentive Plans: The Five Keys to Motivation
  • NEW Parent Training Teleclass
  • Self Care: Treat your body like a best friend

    Challenging behavior getting you down? Three openings available now. Check out the
    Calm the Chaos Parent Coaching Program

Incentive Plans: The Five Keys to Motivation

There are always lots of things that adults don’t want to
do. Like the dishes, commuting in traffic or paying bills,
but we have learned that there are rewards for doing those
things and consequences for not doing them.

Kids don’t always see the big picture the way that we do.
They really don’t care if their room is clean or if their
homework is done, so it is necessary to create incentives
sometimes to help them to understand what is important and
what you value as a family.

Creating effective incentive plans takes quite a bit of
creativity, ingenuity, and a bit of "know how." Luckily,
the "know how" is fairly easy to figure out. Here are the
five keys to setting up an incentive plan that really works:

Key #1: Know what kind of child you have

There are two ways that kids want to have incentives.
There’s the one who wants rewards to be new and different
all the time and those who only like one thing, and it’s
easier to just go with that. Granted this can shift and
change over time, but by and large most kids will gravitate
to one camp or the other.

For example, my son likes only one thing for the most part
and that has been "screen time" - videogames, portable game
systems or computer time is really all he craves even now.
Using a token system didn’t work at all because he only
wanted to use it for screen time anyway. So, I simplified
both of our lives by using 15 minute chunks of screen time
as his "token." Why make it more complicated than it needed
to be?

One of my client’s has a child who wants new and different
rewards all the time. What his mom did is to create a prize
box. She puts in toys from the local dollar store, coupons
for special treats or favors, and even quarters for buying
gumballs at the grocery store. She also puts in toys that
she had to pick up off the floor for him. In other words,
if he didn’t pick up the toys, he would have to earn it back
later. This system keeps the reward always changing and
evolving and, boy, does he keep his toys picked up now!

Key #2: Incentive Plans should work like the real world

If you ever have a question in your mind about a particular
way you want to set up a plan, just think about how
incentives work in the real world.

A client came to me complaining that the incentive program
they were using was not working very well. It was a marble
token system where when the child "did something good" they
got a marble in the nice, clear jar. When they "did
something bad" then a marble would be removed from the jar.
When the jar was full then they would earn some kind of big

Sound reasonable?

Heck no! What happens if ALL the marbles have been removed
from the jar? Can you spell Power Struggle? Ugh! Removing a
reward that has been earned is a big mistake.

Think about the real world. Most people work for that
favorite token,money. They do a particular job, then get
paid for that. If you make a mistake in your work, your
boss doesn’t remove money from your paycheck. There is
going to be some other type of consequence like a reprimand
or in the worst case a pink slip, but money that you earned
is yours to keep--period.

Key #3: Use Time based incentives as often as possible

Some of the best incentives are what I like to call "time-
based" incentives--special times with mom or dad or other
important people in your child’s life. The beauty of these
types of rewards is that they are gone as soon as the reward
is "paid." With a prize based reward there is a satiation
that happens. "I got the X toy and there’s nothing else that
I want right now." With time-based rewards, they are
fleeting, and so easy to renew. You can start a new
behavior chart just as soon as you get back from that trip
to Safari Sam’s or that bike ride with Grandma. (More on
behavior charts in #5)

Key #4: Use your child’s love language to inspire your incentives

Finding your child’s love language is a really effective way
to make incentives that help your child feel loved and
valued as well as motivated. I wrote about Love Languages in
more detail in a prior newsletter here:

Basically the five love languages are as follows:

  • Acts of Service - helping someone to do errands or chores
  • Quality Time - One on one, undivided attention
  • Words of Affirmation - speaking appreciation and
  • Physical Touch - Hugging, holding hands, massage
  • Receiving Gifts - receiving objects that show caring and

By using your child’s first or second choice of love
language to guide you, you will be able to create a more
meaningful as well as motivating incentive.

Key #5: Find fun resources to liven things up a bit

Using a fun behavior chart to track your child’s progress
can add a lot to the process. Charts don’t have to be
boring sticker charts. You can make a game out of it. There
are some interesting examples that you can use here:

Of course, if your child IS a big sticker fan then
definitely use stickers!

Hopefully, you find these ideas about incentive systems
helpful. Incentives are just one part of a complete
parenting plan, but definitely a fun and motivating part.
Designing an effective Parenting plan will allow you to be
able to relax and enjoy your child again.

Now go hug those munchkins, you don’t need an incentive to do that!

NEW Parent Training Teleclass

When you are feeling like you are already doing everything
you know how to do, but the fighting, yelling and trouble
continues, maybe it’s time to get some real answers. Maybe
it’s time to empower yourself to finally make that shift
that changes that negative spiral into a warm, peaceful home
again. Maybe you are ready to get that support.

Maybe you can!

Calm the Chaos
Parent Training Teleclass

Five weekly sessions for one hour, with online parent
support group, helpful worksheets, email and telephone
support from the instructor (that’s me, Karen) and
recordings of the classes so you never miss a thing! No
need to get a babysitter or worry about gas money. All you
need is a phone with long distance.

Save $50 by signing up before October 26th. Check out all
the details here:

Self Care: Treat your body like a best friend

I know it might sound odd to treat your body like a best
friend. So many moms are so busy working, cleaning,
mothering, and on and on that they forget to pay attention
to their own bodies. How do you know when you haven’t been
spending enough time caring for your body?

Take this little quiz. In the last week, have any of these
statement been true?

1. I forgot to eat a meal.
2. I ate something mindlessly until it was gone.
3. I did not exercise at least three times for 30 minutes.
4. I felt and ignored pain in some part of my body.
5. I got thirsty, but waited to get a drink until later.
6. I didn’t get to bed early enough to get a good night’s

If you didn’t do any of these, then you are doing a good job
with taking care of your body. Bravo! Keep up the good

If you said, "Yes" to any of these, then that is a sign that
you are not caring for your body like a best friend. Your
body suffered from an unhealthy lack of attention and tender
loving care. You would not allow this to happen to your
best friend, yet you did it to your own body.

How to shift the pattern

To change this pattern a really good practice is to pick
just one thing you want to change. Let’s say you want to
start remembering to drink more water. (Did you know that it
is recommended to drink ½ oz. of water for each pound you
weigh?) So, you set up your environment to support you to
drink more water.

Maybe you buy a new water bottle. Then you make up a
schedule for how much water you want to drink in a waking
period. So say you calculate that to get all the water in,
you have to refill your water bottle three times. You set
up a log to keep track of when you refilled your bottle. You
also set up a timer in your computer to remind you when it’s
time to refill the bottle.

Ask a friend to support you to follow through with your goals. It
helps a lot to have someone else cheering you on.

You Can Do it!

All of this will take some work and effort to set up and to
follow through, but if you do it for about three weeks then
it will become a habit. Once a habit is formed it becomes
easier to maintain, and then you can start on the next

Taking care of your health is the ultimate in self care. In
order for you to be the most effective person that you can
be, it is important to pay attention to your body.

Treating your body like a best friend will allow you to be
more effective in all the roles that you have from mother
and partner to professional and colleague.

Not only that. . .you deserve it! Just ask your best friend.

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Calm the Chaos Newsletter

This Newsletter is copyright (c)2007 Karen DeBolt, all rights reserved. You may freely reprint in any newsletter, website, or print journal. Please send me a copy and include the following attribution:

"Calm the Chaos Newsletter article (c)2007 Karen DeBolt, MA.
All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission. Helping families
Struggling with Chaos at home to have happy, successful children. Sign up for the newsletter at and receive a copy of the free report, ‘Conquering Bad Behavior Without Stress.’"

I send out an extra email now and then detailing programs and offers.

Karen DeBolt, MA. Parent Coach and Family Therapist
Struggling with Chaos at home and want happy successful children? Download our free report, “How to conquer bad behavior without stress.”
5234 NE Farmcrest St., Hillsboro, OR. 97124



Copyright 2010 Karen DeBolt, MA All Rights Reserved
5234 NE Farmcrest St., Hillsboro, OR 97124 * 503-459-2073 * Email

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