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Simon's Chart

Two weeks ago Chris initiated the creation of a new chart for Simon.

I'm pretty sure the catalyst was a conversation we had while sitting in the driveway after visiting a middle school for Simon (that whole process is another story for another day). We were talking about structure, attitude, hopes & dreams, fears & frustrations, screen time, etc. The chart idea was originally brought up by a psychologist that we (and Simon) met with last summer - he encouraged a similar chart to establish a set of norms and rewards. We worked with it for a bit and then got distracted.

Basically, we let it go. And things were okay.

Fast forward to today and I'm thankful to Chris and Tiffany for taking the time to create and get a new chart going. This one is more specific than the previous one and deals more directly and concretely with screen time as a reward. The other chart had rewards like legos, pool time, new books, etc - all things he likes of course but not really as motivating or immediate.

The goal of this chart is specifically to create structure around screen time. Screen time (tv, computer, video games) is a big topic around here as Simon's definitely a fan of tv, movies and computer/video games. There's definitely a secondary benefit around teaching responsibility, respect, sharing of household duties, establishing clear expectations and routine (which we know he loves already).

The chart looks like this:

Keep in mind when looking at the chart that these tasks are very specific to Simon. Some are more relevant to Chris' house than my house and I'll be adjusting some of the tasks to reflect what needs to be worked on at my house (like feeding the animals). Anna's going to get a chart too and her responsibilities and extra credit tasks will be different from Simon's.

The chart includes a list of daily responsibilities that are simply non-negotiable things he needs to do each day. He needs to do them to even "qualify" to earn screen time. Some of these things he does daily already without complaint and others are a daily struggle.

The second list includes the ways he can earn screen time (with a max of two hours per day).

What we've learned in the last week and a half is that he's really motivated to earn screen time (feel like I should write "duh" here).

What I've noticed in just a week of using the chart is that he seems more present, more in tune, and more willing to do daily tasks without complaint. He's also eating non-preferred foods with less complaining (he's been doing much better in general with trying new foods, but it's still a big part of our daily dialogue and is anxiety inducing for him).

Last night he ate steak, roasted Brussels sprouts and peaches with minimal complaints. He fed the animals without me even asking him first - he saw the clock said 5pm and he knew it was time for them to eat. When he completes a task he goes over to the chart and puts a smiley face in the appropriate box.

I definitely still need to monitor the time he actually spends in front of a screen but this process has given us something concrete to turn to - something he understands because he can see it, read it and comprehend what needs to be done to earn time.

The lessons for me? Keep trying. Don't give up. Ask for help. Documentation and visual lists are great for Simon (again, not something new to me but I needed the reminder and, humbly, for someone to take the initiative and make it happen).

Go Simon, go.

EDITED | You can download the Excel version of this chart for customization here.

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91 thoughts

  1. dawn says…
    03/12/2013

    GO, SIMON, GO!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. Jo says…
    03/12/2013

    These charts are extremely useful and can be adapted for any age and specific needs of a child/family. I have used them with great results to keep my son's tantrums under control, and now he rarely has a meltdown although he is still learning to deal with frustration. Looks like Simon is motivated too; hope things continue to go well.

    Reply 0 Replies
  3. Marie says…
    03/12/2013

    Great idea! Love the picture with Simon completing his chart!

    Reply 0 Replies
  4. Katrina says…
    03/12/2013

    As an adult, I need a chart on most days! Way to go Simon!

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. Mallory says…
    03/12/2013

    Great idea! I love how your family is still that, a family, working together for the interest of the children. That's the way it should be. Keep up the great work Simon! :)

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. Vera says…
    03/12/2013

    Oh you go Simon. Go! :)

    Reply 0 Replies
  7. Lisa W. says…
    03/12/2013

    Structure is good and he/we all need stucture. I truly hope this continues to be a good thing for all:) Go Simon GO!!! Thanks for sharing alittle bit and ALLOT of your everyday life!

    Reply 0 Replies
  8. Jenny A says…
    03/12/2013

    Awesome job Simon! Love the picture of him writing on his chart!

    Reply 0 Replies
  9. indiana says…
    03/12/2013

    Thank you for sharing your everyday life ! I don't have kids yet but I do have pupils and I know how hard it can be to structure their time of work and leisure. Great job Ali, the chart is great and I'm sure Simon will progress.

    Reply 0 Replies
  10. Kelley says…
    03/12/2013

    Great chart system- would so work with my boys too. Any chance you'd share the chart so we could tweak it for our own households?

    Reply 3 Replies
    1. Alanna says…
      03/12/2013

      I would love to know too!

    2. Alanna says…
      03/12/2013

      You are awesome! Thanks so much Ali!!!

    3. Ali says…
      03/12/2013

      Thanks for asking! I edited the post to include the Excel spreadsheet as a download (link located at the end of the post).

  11. Sue says…
    03/12/2013

    Good for Simon but also good for you Ali. To be öpen"to reflect and follow through with suggestions/reminders so that the postive if felt by all is so awesome. As Simon sees/feels that he has a good team supporting him he will flourish! Yeah for all the Edwards!

    Reply 0 Replies
  12. Jen D says…
    03/12/2013

    I definitely need something like this. I need to incorporate my in-laws into this since the weeks I work evening stretches they are there till my husband is finish work. Thank you for sharing!

    Reply 0 Replies
  13. {vicki} says…
    03/12/2013

    I have used a chart system for years with my son. It's a way of earning money (10 cents per smiley face and less 10 cents per 'X') and it has worked really well.

    You go Simon!

    Reply 0 Replies
  14. Sarah MacKenzie says…
    03/12/2013

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I struggle with finding a balance of limiting screen time for my 7 year old son and fitting in the mandatory things each day. I think I am going to implement something like this as I think it would work well for him

    Reply 0 Replies
  15. Beverly says…
    03/12/2013

    GREAT post! GREAT parents! I remember talking about "non-negotiables" when our girls were little ;)

    Reply 0 Replies
  16. Mary Rogers says…
    03/12/2013

    thanks for sharing this Ali!! I love seeing how much he has progressed over the years. Go Simon Go indeed!

    Reply 0 Replies
  17. keianna says…
    03/12/2013

    Awesome co-parenting. Simon is very lucky.

    Reply 0 Replies
  18. Liz Ness says…
    03/12/2013

    This is great! We have almost the same chart for D for the same currency (screen time). It's sort of affirming to see other parents with the same concept in play, ya' know?

    Ours is magnetic and kept in his bathroom--a place he visits often, so he's likely to see it and be reminded of his chores. When an item is complete, he moves the magnet to the "done" column. Every night, he's reminded by the iPhone to check his list one hour before bed-time, giving him an opportunity to catch up on what's missing and prevent screen-time loss for the next day. Then, we check/confirm that chores are complete at bed-time and set the screen-time allowance (full, partial, none) for the next day. It's been working very well, providing structure and driving consistency.

    =) Three cheers for less tears and happier kids!

    Reply 0 Replies
  19. Christine says…
    03/12/2013

    My kids are grown but as a teacher we use charts like this at the school where I teach. I like the 2 separate categories. Kids really do crave routine and your plan is well thought out.
    Keep us updated.

    Reply 0 Replies
  20. Michelle says…
    03/12/2013

    Ali, I love that you are so open and honest in your communication here, it is one of the reasons I feel like I connect to your blog. My son has ADHD so we are exploring executive function to help and our chart is not working so Simon's chart gave me a new idea. Thanks!

    Reply 0 Replies
  21. Amy P. says…
    03/12/2013

    Great chart and great idea! Do you mind sharing the template? Great job Simon!

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Ali says…
      03/12/2013

      Hi Amy! I edited the post to include the Excel spreadsheet as a download (link located at the end of the post).

  22. Leanne in CA says…
    03/12/2013

    Wow, awesome! Keep up the good work Simon!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  23. Deb J says…
    03/12/2013

    This is a great thing. So glad Simon is actually doing it and enjoying it.

    Reply 0 Replies
  24. Ruth G says…
    03/12/2013

    Oh, yeah! Good for you and Simon and I hope that things keep working. We are a very informal family and though we've tried systems like this, it is very hard to keep it up. I know how important it can be for kids, especially those that need concrete, visual devices, to help them focus on what WE want them to focus on, but having to kind of make it up as we go makes it difficult since everyone in the world is so different (and we kind of tend to celebrate that at our house!) Thanks for sharing!

    Reply 0 Replies
  25. simplypearl says…
    03/12/2013

    oh ali, thank you for sharing this. my boys are highly incentivized by technology. we've been using a marble jar for 1st time listening, but i LOVE the idea of the boys checking off on their list of things they must do as part of the family and extra credit. will be using that idea. thank you. and hurray for simon!!!

    Reply 0 Replies

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