3 ways for Positive Child Guidance… a little incentive goes a long way

As parents, I think it is possible to fall into the trap of overindulging and/or overprotecting our child with specials needs. Miller, D.F. (2004) writes in her book, Positive Child Guidance, that “caring adults know how to say no” (p.212) and we must avoid being slaves to our children. All parents will know that caring for and guiding children is physically demanding, emotionally draining, and intellectually taxing work, and growing up is not an easy task for the children either. There are a few ways in which I have tried and tested which seems to work for my preschooler, C. 

    1. Delay gratification – When our child cries or throws a tantrum, unless it is of a dangerous situation, we should wait for a few minutes. Use of this technique helps the child to develop responsibility and self-control. They will learn that it is not “me-world” all the time, and they will slowly learn to realise that there IS a time for all things in the world.
      1. You should watch this experiment on The Marshmallow Test done on a group of young children on the benefits of delay gratification. Each child was offered a choice between one small reward provided immediately or two small rewards if they waited for a short period for 15 minutes. The tester will leave the room and then return 15 minutes later. The study found that children who were able to wait longer for the preferred rewards tend to have better life outcomes. Watching the kids’ reactions and actions cracked me up. But it definitely reinforced my belief on delay gratification.
  1. A choice within a choice – According to Miller (2004), our preschoolers at this age are beginning to become more aware of their own interest and intentions. As such, it might be useful for us to provide them with choices that would assist them to build on this development stage. However, to me, freedom to make choices should also lie within certain boundaries. Of course our kids need not know that. I’ll explain this further with a scenario with C. C loves noodles, if given a choice, he would eat noodles and luncheon meat everyday and for every meal. However, as parents, I know the saltiness of both the noodles and luncheon meat. Thus, on a Saturday when we head out for breakfast, I might give C the option to choose either the noodles or luncheon meat. I will explain to C that he still get what he wants, and if he does not want to choose either, I’ll buy him Hor Fun noodles (which he likes as well, just not as much as luncheon meat. Hor Fun happens to be a healthier choice as well).
    • Another scenario is vegetable eating. C does not like anything green (i.e., most vegetables), orange (i.e., carrots) or yellow (i.e., capsicum). Recently, with the help of the Science Adventure Series, ‘Don’t be a fussy eater’, it teaches C that to be strong and healthy, we cannot be a fussy eater. With the help of this story, during meal times, I would ask C to make a choice between spinach or carrot. I am happy if he chooses either one. And if he says he doesn’t want either, I would normally say but eating vegetables make us strong and healthy. C would normally oblige after that because he would say he wants to be strong and healthy.
  2. External reinforcement – By using external reinforcement, I am not saying that I am trying to manipulate our kids to behave in a certain way. On the contrary, I believe it is a process of ‘guiding children to become competent, confident, and cooperative human beings (p.214). Children, especially those of our kids’ age, tend to do whatever they need to get their needs met. And, it is important for parents to know that subconsciously, many habits are formed this way. For example, for a child who always get what he or she wants by asserting it aggressively, might soon think that this is a socially acceptable way to get his or her wants/needs met. This adds an additional layer to the role of parenting preschoolers. We need to analyze and be wary of the way how our kids get the things they want or need. So with C, I have created reward charts. After trying it out for about a month, I feel that it works for him, hence I am sharing it here.


I have to highlight that I do not own any of these images here. I merely downloaded them from the Internet and created charts based on the likes of my child. If you are interested to download them, please click on the link below but know that they are not for commercial use. 

How I Use the Charts

Start out with a single reward chart.
Start out with a single reward chart. Write out the goal (i.e., the number of stars the child needs to get in order to be awarded with the reward) and the reward. Explain to the child what he or she needs to do. For example, “C, if you eat by yourself, you will get one star, and you can eat one Scott’s Pastilles after meal”.
If you have a particular agenda, you may create charts with those purposes.
If you have a particular agenda, you may create charts with those purposes. With C, he needs to get 6 stars to watch TV or play with IPad for 20 minutes. This choice is given to C. As you can tell, he chose to watch TV. I also get him to ‘tick’ the stars when he achieves them.
Once the child
To achieve the 6 stars, I like to use the multiple reward chart, However, I think it would be better to move to multiple chart only when your child has understood the concept of a goal and a reward.
C, I thought you're suppose to put one tick on each star?
With the multiple chart, I will write out the various items I would want C to complete and the accompanying stars. Likewise, C will tick the stars when he has completed the items. Normally, the completion of these items will mount to 6 stars, then he will proceed to his Chunginton chart and mark out 6 stars. We can incorporate some Math while using the chart too by asking them to count the stars upon completion.
To build on C's penmanship, I like to get him to follow-the-lines with puzzles. This one is from the Science Adventure Series that I rave about. If he stays within the line and finds out who captures the fish, he will get 2 stars.
For example, to build on C’s penmanship, I like to get him to follow-the-lines with puzzles. This one is from the Science Adventure Series that I rave about. If he stays within the line and finds out who captures the fish, he will get 1 star.

Do share with me if these ways or techniques have worked out for you. Since the ‘I am alone in Nursery‘ episode, I started to read up on some books on Child Development, Positive Guidance and Promoting Social Success. I am not done with them but find the contents pretty good in helping me to understand C and devise ways to help him. You may want to check out the books if you are keen to read, read and read really really thick books 😮

These are the titles of the books.
These are the titles of the books that I am currently trying to read and digest.




One thought on “3 ways for Positive Child Guidance… a little incentive goes a long way

  1. Great ideas! I have used a similar Thomas the Tank Engine star chart with the kids at my learning house and it was a success! I create my own star charts based on the children’s interests at any given time. In the past these have included basket ball, Dora, Nemo, Sesame Street, dogs and fish! I think it is a really good idea to use the star chart to work towards one specific goal at a time rather than several goals all at once. This makes it easier for the child to understand how the star chart works and what they are working towards in terms of their learning goal and their reward! Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful information! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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