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If you want your child’s attention, just get on the phone and they’ll appear in an instant with the latest whine or dispute for you to referee. Am I right? Unfortunately, misbehavior works to get our attention. Good behavior often doesn’t.

The Problem with Ignoring Good Behavior

Whatever is rewarded gets repeated. I’m a psychologist and I taught my clients this. But in my own home, I’ve struggled to use this principle. When the behavior is bad, I react. When my kids are good, I just want to celebrate. You know, by taking a nap. I’m not wanting to go out of my way to reward them.

While it’s inconvenient to reward and discipline, it’s vital that we do. That’s why I was ecstatic to find the Caught Being Good app for the iPhone. I have my iPhone on my person at all times (why is another story), so using it to reward good behavior is very convenient.

The idea behind Caught Being Good is that you look for the behavior you want (not what you don’t). Of course,  misbehavior should have consequences! But the purpose of the app is to teach children WHAT to do rather than punish for doing something wrong. Verbal praise is a powerful reward, but using other rewards can make behavior change even more likely.

How Caught Being Good Works

If you’d like to watch a video of the app in action, check this out. If you prefer my incredible description to clicking over to YouTube, here goes. Anything your kids do that you like, you announce, “You’ve been caught being good!” or something to that effect. You then present them with your phone with the app open. They choose their name and spin the wheel. They’re then given a reward from among those you’ve pre-selected using a frequency you’ve chosen. If you can’t give the reward immediately, you can save it under their name for later.

Using this app with my kids has prompted them to make my bed for me numerous times, do chores without being asked, and to surrender a privileged seat or snack to a sibling. Some rewards I’ve included include choosing a snack or cereal from the store, being taken out for ice cream, or having a sleepover. Rewards I least want to give out (like sleepovers) I’ve set to occur least often. It’s taken some time to work out the right rewards. The kids have helped me by telling me which rewards are lame and which are occurring too seldom. Yes, they’ve complained about the sleepover.

Catch Your Kids Being Good

If you have an iPhone, you can download Caught Being Good in the app store for $.99. I’m not being paid a commission on it. (What’s wrong with this picture?) Set up an account for your kids (I’ve used it with my 16-year-old, too!) and add your rewards. I discourage you from announcing your intentions. Just surprise everyone by announcing at dinner that Junior’s been good by eating his broccoli without complaint. When the rest of the kids (and your hubby) chime in that they’ve been good, too, and also want a spin, explain that they can’t request spins. They have to be caught.

What if you don’t have an iPhone or don’t want to spend the money on the app? Make your own paper reward wheel using an old board game spinner or create a reward jar.

Need reward ideas? Whether you use the app or not, check out this list of reward ideas for kids of every age.

Now if only the kids would catch me being good and would give me a good long nap as a reward!

How do you reward your kids for being good?