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.