HINTS FOR SETTING UP A HOME POINT SYSTEM
Here are the steps for developing a home point system. This program is also described in Barkey's Taking Charge of ADHD.
For younger children, find a jar, coffee can, shoe box or anything that can be used as a bank and get plastic poker chips that can given as rewards for desired behaviors. Up to age 6, the chips should be worth one point apiece. After age 6 through about age 8, white chips can be worth 1 point, red chips=5points and blue chips=10 points.
With older children, a sheet of paper can be used to record points. It may be difficult to get a teenager to buy in to this type of program.
Compile a list of privileges that your child is interested in working for. This should include every day privileges such as TV time, video game time, renting videos, etc. as well as special privileges such as going to the movies, going out to eat, buying a toy or video game, etc.
Next, compile a list of the behaviors you most want to change. Start with only one or two so you are focused as well as providing your child with focus. State these behaviors in terms of what you want your child to do, such as, "be respectful to others" instead of "Don’t hit your sister." You can go on to explain what being respectful means in concrete terms: speaking in a normal tone, using kind words, etc.
Dividing the day into 1,2 or 3 hour blocks, depending on their age and ability to inhibit impulses, is useful in creating the program. A matrix is created with the time slots along the side and the behaviors to be targeted across the top. In each cell of the matrix, the number of points earned is placed or the number of chips to be put in the jar.
Determine the exchange value for the points or chips. Generally, at least 60% of the possible points earned in a day should be equal to the every day activities that are listed as privileges. This way your child can save points while also doing the things that are enjoyable. Remember: We want to design this program so it has the greatest chance for success. Give out bonus points or chips for desired behavior. Give lots of points at the beginning to help "lock in" the program. This also assures that the program can be successful.
Review the list of desired behaviors and privileges regularly. Add or subtract as necessary to maintain interest and success.
Reward with points or chips for almost any good behavior. Remember: you want your child to be successful.
Never reward prior to a desired behavior but then give the reward as close in time to the desired behavior as possible.
Both parents should administer the program. It is most effective that way.
Always smile when you reward your child. Tell them what you liked. This will increase the likelihood that they will repeat the desired behavior.
Make a commitment to sticking with the program for at least two months. Don’t be afraid to manipulate and change the program to help assure its success. If you find that you can’t make it work, consult your therapist, if you have one. If you don’t, get one.