“Mommy, Can I Clip Up?”


clipcharts2One of the best things about my son going to kindergarten last year was stealing the clip chart idea from his teacher. From the very first week, my five year old was sold on “clipping up.” He told his little four-year-old brother all about it, and we’ve been living happily ever after ever since.

Okay, okay. It’s not quite that wonderful. It isn’t a magic wand or anything. But, I can honestly say it has been an effective tool to use in addition to other corrective behavior methods in our home. I have read many positive, and just a few less than positive, reviews about clip charts. I think the benefit is all in how you decide to use it, and it helps when your kids love it.

When it comes to correcting our growing boys’ contrary behavior, my husband and I agree steps toward prevention are infinitely more powerful than compulsive discipline. We want to encourage our boys in learning self-discipline. We use the clip chart as a guide to help them on their level. We do not use it as an answer for immediate disciplinary needs or to punish them.

IMG_5238Ready to Learn

Each day my boys begin anew on “Ready to Learn.” We use a clothespin with a “1” for my oldest son and another clothespin with a “2” for my youngest son. Every morning, we talk about daily expectations. In general, they know listening, following instructions, helping one another, and respecting home/school rules, and age appropriate tasks are expected. I base their chart movement on what I see in their behavior throughout the day. Chart movement is fluid and at my discretion. Some days, the clip chart is implemented more than others.

 I Make Wise Decisions

We try very hard to be fair, age appropriate, and practical with expectations. Every attitude and action is not monitored or acknowledged by movement on the clip chart. Our goal is to set a standard, which is ultimately “make wise decisions” as they learn to self-disciple. The clip chart helps us help them become consistent in their choices. It also provides them with a visual they can respond to and interact with as they learn; they move their own clothespin up or down. The boys naturally prefer to move up the chart, and feel accomplished when they are affirmed in their wise decisions.

Terrific/Super Star

Terrific status equals consistently appropriate in attitude and action. The boys are bumped up to Super Star when they are consistent and going above and beyond expectations. When my now six year old helps his younger brother tie his shoelaces and puts his plate away, or both boys work together in opening a door for someone in need, or accepting “no” maturely to their random desires (such as, “Mommy, for the 958 time, can I open the new Lego set?”), I am compelled to acknowledge their efforts. I use the Super Star status sparingly, not because they do not deserve it at times, but because I think it should be saved for days they are simply drenched in awesome sauce. It is a juggle finding the right balance because I do not want to withhold, but I am trusting our process so far. Whenever the boys do make it all the way up the chart, I will let them pick something out of a treasure box. It is celebratory.

Think About It

Though disappointed when they clip down, we never make a sore spectacle over it. We always say as they are clipping down, “We need to think about our behavior and our choices.” This is a phrase we want them to carry with them throughout their life. They know just because they clip down, it does not mean they cannot clip back up during the same day.

Lose Electronics/Talk with Dad

We chose electronics because losing screen time is a tragedy for them. Both parents are involved in correction in our home in different ways. However, when home during the day, “Talk with Dad” keeps me accountable in remembering specific areas to discuss, rather than just saying, “They were terrors today!”

clipchartParenting young children involves much repetition and consistency in our own behavior. We may not see everything that is clip up or clip down worthy. However, we are teaching the boys to be patient and trust, and we want to be fair and good to them. We are ready to learn every day, as well. It takes our entire family working together to help them develop into mature young men. They may not understand everything immediately, but with repetition and consistency, we will get there.

I didn’t realize there were so many Pinterest ideas for creating your own clip chart when I created ours. They are inexpensive and very easy to make. The boys picked out the theme for our chart (we used sea creatures) and colored the prints. You can find a variety of prints here. We decided together where we would hang our new chart. If you decide to give it a shot, getting the kids involved will peak enthusiasm in its use for sure. Good Luck!

Do you have a clip chart or similar method in your home? What do you find works best?


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