Sample Reward-Rule-Consequence Scenarios
Now you can put these concepts into practice for your middle schooler. You should continue to focus primarily on rewards; rewards can be more abstract and earned over a greater period of time now. Once you have gotten the most important defiant behaviors under control, your child should be assigned several age-appropriate household responsibilities.
How to Reward Good Behavior
Contrary to what she may say, a middle schooler still wants love, praise, and affection from her parents, so when your tween does something right, something you want to encourage, let her know. Comments like, “Way to go!” “I'm proud of you,” and “I knew you could do it!” will make her swell with pride on the inside, even if what she says is, “So what?” or the famous middle school refrain, “You're embarrassing me!”
Reward charts should be revamped with a less juvenile look, and should be focused on fifteen-minute increments of screen time, later bedtime on weekend nights, or, better yet, a reward your child helps select. Some behaviors you might want to list on the reward chart are, “Calling Mom every day after school to check in,” or “Being at school on time.” Remember not to take away any check marks once they're earned, and write out the rewards explicitly so your child doesn't get into a hair-splitting argument later. As your child grows older, you may find that the rewards and rules must be extremely explicit and sound longer than is reasonable; that's okay, just make sure that you and your child agree they're clear.
How to Decrease Problem Behaviors
Be just as explicit outlining the rules against problem behaviors: “You must be home fifteen minutes after school ends on days you don't have drama club and fifteen minutes after drama club ends on days you do have drama club, unless Mom or Dad gives you permission before school starts that day, or you will lose fifteen minutes of screen time.” Again, enlist your child's help in choosing consequences for problem behaviors. You can ask, “What kind of punishment or consequence do you think would stop you from doing X?” Tell your child that the rules are effective immediately, and post them in a conspicuous place.