The points system

A lot of people have asked me about the levels and points and the reason I am always reluctant to explain is because each individual child is so different. Each package is tailored exactly to the needs of a particular child.

I will try to show you an example below, and for the purpose of my example, I need to imagine a child and a set of difficulties. So, I’ll write a little character and behavioural sketch of an imaginary child and then show you how I would maybe tailor a programme for them.

Lily – aged 12 – loves singing, dancing, drama. Hates everything else! Lily has been getting into trouble at school for bullying. She has no respect for her teachers and often drifts away in class and can’t concentrate. She is horrendous at getting up in the mornings and is usually late for school. She refuses to clean her room and prefers junk food to anything healthy. She plays music too loudly and gets confrontational if told to turn it down.

I would choose something like the X – Factor for Lily’s levels. Stage one would be the auditions. Stage two would be ‘boot camp’ and her final level would be ‘the finals’. At 12, Lily would want all the mod cons in her room, such as TV, DVD player and music system. I would guess that out of these, her music would be the most important to her. I would remove this first of all. The CD player. Because of her behaviour, she has to earn the right to favourite things.

Level 1 – The auditions. Lasts for 4 weeks.

Lily needs to earn at least 100 points per day in order to ‘buy’ rewards from a list. She buys each evening she has earned her 100 points and gets the reward the following day. Even if her behaviour is bad the next day, as she earned them the day before. She will suffer the consequences of her actions the following day. For Lily I would do this:

GET UP WITHIN FIVE MINUTES OF BEING ASKED – 20 POINTS
TIDY ROOM AT A PRE-ARRANGED TIME – 20 POINTS
BE RESPECTFUL TO OTHERS (THIS INCLUDES TEACHERS, PARENTS AND PEERS) – 20 POINTS
DO A JOB IN THE HOUSE WITHOUT BEING ASKED – 10 POINTS
EAT AT LEAST ONE HEALTHY MEAL – 10 POINTS
WHEN ASKED TO DO SOMETHING, DO IT WITHOUT ARGUING – 20 POINTS
GO TO BED AT (INSERT TIME) AND LIGHTS AND TV OUT BY (INSERT TIME) – 10 POINTS
GET A GOOD REPORT FROM SCHOOL (YOU NEED TO PHONE THE SCHOOL EACH DAY FOR THIS, SO GET THEM ON BOARD) – 20 points

You’ll notice that there are only 110 points available, so there isn’t much leeway when she needs to get at least 100, and more points are loaded onto the most important values.

REWARDS TO BUY AT LEVEL ONE

TIME OUT WITH PEERS (YOU SET THE LENGTH OF TIME. AT THIS LEVEL IT IS USUALLY JUST ONE HOUR) – 50 POINTS
HAVE ACCESS TO CD PLAYER (OR LAPTOP OR TV OR MOBILE PHONE – WHATEVER IS THE MOST WANTED) FOR ONE HOUR – 30 POINTS
LATER BEDTIME – 10 POINTS
HAVE FRIEND OVER FOR TEA – 20 POINTS
A MEAL OF HER CHOICE – 10 POINTS
AN EXTRA HOUR OF COMPUTER, MUSIC, TV OR TIME OUT WITH FRIENDS – 20 POINTS

If Lily doesn’t use all her points for the next day, she loses them, they don’t get carried over. You have to be really strict with this part of the package, and when four weeks have passed, she is allowed her CD player (or whatever you’ve chosen) back in her room.

Level 2 – Boot camp – 4 weeks.

Here you can tinker with the first level to include any extra things you need her to change. Take out anything that isn’t a problem anymore and make sure you load the most points onto the worse behaviours. The difference here is that she now has to be trusted to go a week accumulating points and then buys her reward on Friday nights. She still needs at least 100 points per day or else any points less than 100 are not counted at the end of the week. The rewards then get changed to something like:

A FRIEND OVER TO SLEEP – 200 POINTS
AN EXTRA £2.00 POCKET MONEY – 200 POINTS
A FAMILY DVD, POPCORN, AND TAKE AWAY FOOD – 200 POINTS (OBVIOUSLY THIS CAN BE ALTERED TO SUIT YOUR FINANCIAL POSITION)
A TRIP TO THE CINEMA – 300 POINTS (AGAIN, YOU CAN SAY THAT IF SHE CHOOSES THE EXTRA POCKET MONEY, SHE CAN’T ALSO CHOOSE THIS – IT’S TOO EXPENSVE) OR ALTER THIS TO A FAMILY THING THAT DOESN’T COST ANYTHING.

Anyway, you get the idea? Just load this with things you know she’d love and attach a points value to it. The more the better, so that she has lots to choose from. A popular one I find, is to add on that she can choose a menu, shop for it and cook it for tea one night.

LEVEL 3 – THE FINALS

Hopefully, Lily has now altered most of her negative behaviours, and this level only lasts 2 weeks. Just do a final list of things that you’d like her to change or do better. She still needs to earn the 100 points per day for the two weeks, but this time, she doesn’t have to buy her rewards. You can negotiate what she can have at the weekends if she’s got all her points, without her buying them. You just need to have one big reward for at the end of the 2 week period, and if she’s managed all her daily points, she gets the reward and the X-Factor is complete. The prize might be a new outfit, or a family meal at a restaurant of her choice or new CD’s or whatever it is you can afford really that you know she’ll love.

This package is easily adapted to anything that is relevant to your child. Eg their favourite football team, starting at whatever division they are currently in, and then moving them up towards the world cup. It might be that they are interested in martial arts, so you’d start at a white belt and then move up. It’s good to be creative with the packages too. Get the child to help you design the sheets with relevant pictures etc and keep them bright. If they don’t want to engage with the preparation, it doesn’t matter, just do it anyhow. They always get on board in the end even if they are reluctant at the start 🙂