I once sat in on a talk by a fairly well known child psychologist who told the room, "If any one knows of a chart that works, tell me." At the time, my daughter and I were in the middle of a great chart experiment. Or, more precisely, Helen was hoodwinking me through a chart.
The purpose of the chart was simple: To help Helen get to sleep without me in the room. The incentive was straightforward: A princess costume.
The time frame was reasonable: Four weeks.
Plus, Helen had the idea for the chart, she made the chart, she kept the checks and ex-es on the chart. (A very bad bedtime meant she'd lose a check.) It was all terrific, until Helen got her costume. Then, suddenly, she couldn't go to sleep without me in the room. "I only did it to get the dress, mommy," she confessed.
As if I didn't know.
And yet. And yet! Here we are in the grips of another chart. This one was also proposed by Helen, drawn by Helen and is kept by Helen. What's it for? New food. Dinner has gotten to be awful around here. Helen eats nothing because she's bored with everything (and by "everything" I mean pasta, hard boiled eggs, carrots, cauliflower, hot dogs and the occasional fish stick). But her new friends at her new school are eating new foods, so she has a little bit of a peer incentive, even if the new food idea slightly terrifies her.
Anyway, here's how it works. She tries a food we've agreed on, she gets a check. After about 25 checks, she gets a (medium) toy. So far, she's tried raspberries (yuk), blackberries (double yuck), sweet potato (Yum!), and romanesco cauliflower (Yum!). I wasn't sure if the romanesco cauliflower should count because truth be told, it tastes an awful lot like regular cauliflower, which she likes, but it looks a lot different, so I'm sticking with it's status as new.
We'll see if after her (medium) toy she will still eat sweet potatoes. I think she might. I think we might have found a chart that works, but, then again, I've thought that before.