Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Works for me Wednesday: A Privilege Chart Updated

Works for Me Wednesday has a theme this week. It is the Greatest Hits/Tips Edition. I have only been participating a couple months now, but I am republishing my Privilege Chart post with a few updates at the bottom. This chart is used every day in our house!

My husband and I have had much trial and error in this parenting journey. Much of what we have tried has not worked, but one thing has worked for well over a year.

Our oldest is very strong-willed. He is cons
tantly challenging us and needing consequences for bad behavior. He responds best to lossing privileges, but having 3 kids I found it hard to keep up with which privileges he had lost. We'd also forget to reinstate privileges. He'd do something bad and I'd go to get that favorite toy to put it in time-out and I'd realize it was already in time-out from 3 days ago when I'd taken it away and forgotten to give it back. Clearly we needed a new system!

In desperation we did a little internet research and found the Dilley Discipline Ladder. If it could work for the Dilley Sextuplets, maybe it could work for us!

We modified the rungs of the ladder for our family and here is what we came up with:
I intended to someday make this chart prettier, but alas that hasn't happened. So, it is just a blue piece of construction paper with marker writing that has been slipped into a plastic sheet protector. It is clipped to the side of our fridge and has a clothespin with his name to indicate what level our son is on.

The rungs, or "levels" as we call them are:
10. Special treats, surprises, and extra privileges

9. May play video games

8. May watch TV

7. May have normal bedtime

6. May have special activites (includes playdates, dessert)
5. May play in playroom and backyard
4. May color and do other art
3. May play with toys in your room
2. May read books and do workbooks

1. Chores and thinking time only

So the way it works is that your child falls levels for bad behavior and rises for good behavior. The number of levels lost or gained is up to the parent. Most infrations around our house cause a loss of 2 levels, pushing a sibling for example, but something worse like really hard pushing with no provacation may cause a loss of 4 levels. Good things, like sharing with a sibling without being told to or helping around the house will move the child up the ladder. The great thing about the clothespin is that you always know what privileges they have! They get the privilege of the level they are on plus all other levels below.

We think it is important for the child to own the process, so we discussed levels and privileges with our son as we created the chart and incorporated
some of his ideas. Also, he must move his own clothespin. If he is told to move down 2 and he refuses or argues, it becomes 3, again if he refuses or argues it increases to 4. If the parent has to move the clip, he is moved down to level 1. Another way he monitors the system himself is that he is responsible for knowing what level he is on. If he's caught playing his Leapster when he is not on the video game privilege level, he cannot plead that he didn't know and he will fall further down the ladder for taking a privilege he did not have.

When he wants a certain privilege and he is not on the right level he will come ask me what he can do to move up. He can unload the dishwasher, clean windows, wipe down toliets, and other chores that are not his regular chores.

This chart has really helped us. I love that it is not only about consequensing bad behavior but rewarding good, also! When my daughter turns 4 I plan to add another clothespin with her name on it to the chart. I think at 4 they are ready for this type of system.

After we'd used this system for a year I toured my son's new kindergarten classroom and saw that they have a chart with 3 levels (green, yellow, and red) and clothespin clips with each child's name on it to keep up with classroom behavior. Seeing this validated even more for me that this type of system works and it was great that my son was already used to the idea.

This system has made the hard issue of discipline much easier for us!

I said before that this chart was best for ages 4 and up, but we just started using it for our 3 1/2 year old daughter and it is working great! She is mature for her age (I think being a girl and having an older sibling helps). As I expected, she is very different from her older brother and upset when she is on any level lower than 10 and works to move up. Her brother routinely moves all the way to level 1 and mostly hangs out around level 6.

Also, just for further detail. Level 8 is may watch TV. This does not mean as much TV as you want. In our home we limit TV to around 30 minutes per day, except for the once every 2 weeks or so that we have a family movie night or during illness. But, to get even this 30 minutes, the child must be on level 8.

Another important note, we don't believe that one child should rule the family, so if our oldest is on a level lower than 6 (the special activities level) and the whole family is supposed to attend a party or other social event, we will not stay home because that oldest child has made bad choices. We will all go to the event and that child will sit out any fun and games, like jumping things, eating cake, etc.

The Level 6 special activities does not include team sports, like baseball games or practices. We feel this would be letting down the team, so our children attend no matter what level they are on. However, if the team goes out for ice cream or sno cones after the game or the kids want to play on the playground after the game, our child will not be able to participate in those extras if they are not at least on level 6 at home.

Some of you had questions. To answer, yes, the levels roll-over to the next day. So if you go to bed on level 3, guess what? You wake up on level 3! Another was what level to begin on when starting the system. We started them out on level 8 the very first time.

Some of you told me you were going to try this system at home. I would love to hear how it is going. Have you added anything to it?

Find more Works For Me Wednesday Tips at We are THAT Family

privilege chart


  1. Wow, great idea! I was wondering what age you started your kids on the chart, but you answered my question at the end. My daughter is nearing three, so I'm betting she's not quite ready. But when she gets a little older this seems like a great tool.

  2. I like this idea, because the child knows the consequences before they act, and also the consequences are consistent, instead of being decided only after the offense has occurred. I am glad it is working so well for you, it gives me incentive to try it.

  3. I really enjoyed reading your post - what a great thing to put in play with kids! I like this! I also like that it can be customized based on the age of your children. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Great Post, I had spent all day yesterday working on our own family's "Privilege Chart" and making our changes to fit our family. We will start tommorow and I was so happy to see this update today! Thanks for sharing what works for your family. Say a prayer for me that we can make it work for us too! Thanks!

  5. This is a great idea! I love it and plan to try it. With four kids, keeping up with discipline I've handed out can get confusing. This just streamlines it and they know what to expect. Thanks for the idea!

  6. I like this idea. My kids are older, but I've been trying to work on something similar. We homeschool and I find I spend a lot of time interrupting myself to deal with discipline issues. For just that reason, I might move the clothespin myself, at least when the behavior causing the loss of levels is distracting during school time, so that it's not causing further distraction to ask the offender to get up and move his or her clothespin.

    Hmmm...food for thought. Thanks for the idea.

  7. Great idea, thank you for sharing. I too have a strong willed child and have a hard time keeping up with punishments, and wondering what to do next to make a point.

    Thank you for stopping by WFMW. Hope you get those Legos organized.

  8. This is a really interesting idea!

  9. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I'm glad we could trade tips. I'll see your behavior tip and raise you one chore chart tip. lol

    Have a great week.

  10. I've done something similar although not presently with having a rights chart and a privileges chart. It worked well but I've gotten out of it recently. Need to take a 2nd look. Thanks for sharing! :D

  11. Thanks for stopping by my post and offering suggestions. I've already got my 'chart' done; however, it only further shows my lack in parenting skills. It can be so frustrating.

  12. Thanks for sharing what works for your family! I will be making one soon but think I'll add some visual pics for my 5 year old who is just starting kinder and cannot read yet. All summer my girls who are 5 and 7 have bickered and tested my patience and slacked on their chores....this would have helped a lot to have started at the beginning of the summer. Better late than never!


I'd love to hear what you think!