Reward. At the end of each school day, students hand in their cards. The teacher counts the tootles, only counting the pro-social behaviors. The next day, the teacher announces the number of tootles recorded and reads some examples aloud and offers praise. The teacher then records the number on a feedback chart. After a certain number of cumulative tootles (set by the teacher), the class is rewarded in some way, either through an activity that the whole class enjoys, a few more minutes at recess, or a special snack.
Repeat. After each reward, the process begins again, perhaps with new, more stringent criteria for tootling and with a different reward.
As Nechama experienced, tootling can work at home too, but is implemented in a slightly less systematic manner. Clearly, your children will not be using index cards to record their siblings positive behaviors. Instead they verbally report the pro-social behaviors throughout the day. The parent keeps track of those tootles and tallies those tootles in a chart. Just as in a classroom, the family members can decide together what kind of reward comes with a certain amount of tootles.
After a few months, tootling becomes instinctive and part of the everyday experience at home. At that point, the tootling rewards itself through a positive environment and better sibling interaction. In that sense, mitzvah goreret mitzvah.
About the Author: An acclaimed educator and social skills specialist, Mrs. Rifka Schonfeld has served the Jewish community for close to thirty years. She founded and directs the widely acclaimed educational program, SOS, servicing all grade levels in secular as well as Hebrew studies. A kriah and reading specialist, she has given dynamic workshops and has set up reading labs in many schools. In addition, she offers evaluations G.E.D. preparation, social skills training and shidduch coaching, focusing on building self-esteem and self-awareness. She can be reached at 718-382-5437 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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