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Checkpoints System to work with Strong Willed Kids

Date Posted:  Friday, December 18, 2020


We all want our kids to do certain things. Like take their breakfast dishes to the sink, or take out the trash, or make their bed.

Do you have trouble getting your kids to do the things they're supposed to do? You tell your child to do the thing. They don't do it. You remind them to do it. They still don't do it. You remind them again. They don't do it. You remind them again. And now you're nagging, or now you're yelling. Maybe at one point you bribed them and then eventually they do it. But you're frustrated and fed up by the time they do.

Want to put an end to this hassle and stress? Yes, you do, or you wouldn’t be here! I want to thank you for requesting the template I use to help parents get their kids to do what they need to do without all the nagging, arguments and fights. This template is part of a system I’ve developed called the Checkpoints System.

You can access the template, and the video I use to explain the system, on this webpage.

If you’ve watched my video, you’ve had a general overview of the Checkpoints System and how to use it. I’m going to share a little more on how to use the System in this email:

  • Take advantage of the System to encourage a wide range of “good behavior”! You can use this system, not just for tasks like reading or walking the dog, but also for other behaviors like playing by yourself without interrupting Mom, playing outside, or being nice to your brother. You can use this system to motivate any behavior.
  • The System works a lot better when you have your child help design it, especially when it comes to the Checkpoint Activities. It’s really important to get their input on the fun things they want to do at the Checkpoints. But it’s also important to get their input on the schedule, too. For example, you can ask them what time they think a Checkpoint should happen, or what part of the day they think a certain task should happen.
  • Be careful! It’s not enough that the Checkpoint Activities be positive and rewarding: They also need to be things you don't care if they do or not. Like eating special snacks, or eating junk food, or having extra screen time. Because if the Activities are things you need them to do – like watch a movie when you’re in a meeting – you’re going to give them the movie even if they didn’t do their stuff. So if you need them to watch a movie at 4:00, let them watch the movie at 4, and schedule the Checkpoint Activity for a different time.
  • This system works a lot better if both parents are on or close to the same page. Best-case scenario, both parents are using it. But if one parent is not into it, that’s OK, as long as he or she lets the other parent run the System. For example: Dad likes the System, he and the kids make the schedule, Dad enables the Checkpoint Activities, or not, as appropriate. Mom doesn’t want to use the System, so if she needs the kids to do something, or she sees that certain things aren’t getting done, she asks Dad to manage that. And she doesn’t also try to manage it herself – say, by reminding the kids, or nagging them or scolding them.
  • Younger kids need more Checkpoints throughout the day. Younger kids might also do better with a schedule that has a more “artistic” or “fun” layout. You have an example of this kind of schedule on the template you can download.
  • It’s really good if some of the Checkpoints are times that the child can connect with a parent. So a Checkpoint can be a special project with Mom. It can be a board game, a screen game, 15 minutes of basketball. It’s REALLY helpful if some of the Checkpoint activities be things that parents and kids do together.
  • And as I talked about in the video, keep it positive, objective, and nonjudgmental! It’s really important to pay attention to your words and your tone. Don’t say, "We can't do a special project if you don't do your stuff." DO say, “We can do the project when you’ve done your stuff,” or, “Oh, I’m sorry you missed that Checkpoint. I’ll check in with you again at 3:00.”

You want your words and your tone to show that you are unattached to the outcome and the kids get to choose whether they get the Checkpoint Activities or not. So keep it short, sweet and positive, and when they miss the Checkpoint, don’t make it a teaching moment. I know you do want the kids to do the things they’re supposed to do, but if you design it right and follow through, the System can motivate the kids, you can remain objective, and your neutral tone lowers their resistance and gets them to buy in much faster. Keeping this all very objective, positive and nonjudgmental is one of the main things that makes this system work.

OK, if you’ve read this email and watched the video you now know how to use the Checkpoints System. So now what? Are you just going to show this to your child and everyone lives happily ever after? Of course not!

Strong willed kids want control, and they're going to give push-back and do things to maintain the status quo. I’ll be sharing about what to do with this push-back in the next few emails. In the meantime, please reach out to us if you have questions or feedback! We’d love to hear from you.


Rebecah Freeling at Wits’ End