Show Notes: Autonomy Supportive Parenting Style Part 3

This is the third part of the interview with Professor Genevieve Mageau. We talk about using routine charts, and some of the risks and alternatives to sticker charts. We also look at limit setting for boundary testing behaviour, and addressing frequent misbehaviour.

Listen to Autonomy Supportive Parenting Style Part 1 and Part 2 first.

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Routine Charts

  • Routine charts can be helpful because they are informational.
  • Consider your child’s competence?
    • Is s/he able to work through the routine independently.
    • Do you need to remind your child to look at the next step?
    • How much help does your child need to complete each step?
  • If there are frequent problems, problem solve.
  • Accept that when control is given to the child, there will be mistakes.
    • Provide reasons why they need to complete the routine.
    • Allow natural consequences. For example schedule some playtime at the end of routines. If the routine takes too long, there is less time for play.
    • Be prepared to help your child cope with failure (empathise without fixing or blaming).
    • Avoid rushing (make sure your expectations are realistic) – leave time for mistakes by waking earlier if you have to.
    • Make sure children are capable of all steps.

Sticker Charts

  • Consist of 2 components:
    • Informational competence feedback (can be motivating, but also has the potential to undermine feelings of competence, which can be demotivating)
    • Controlling element
  • When sticker charts are seen as encouraging and playful – sticker charts can have positive outcomes BUT,
  • It is hard to predict how they will be perceived.
    • Initially they may work well because they are exciting and provide clear information on what is done well.
    • Some days they may be seen as an attempt at control, and incite resistance, e.g. after an argument, or in the context of other demands.
    • The more parents emphasise the contingency of the reward, the more controlling it can feel “e.g. Come on, get dressed, don’t you want your sticker today?”
  • Can create a transactional parent-child relationship.
    • Children have the right to refuse the reward to not do the behaviour.
    • The focus is on external contingencies rather than the importance or meaning of the behaviour
  • If the reward is blown if they fail once or twice in a week, there is no reason to keep trying for the rest of the week.
    • Part of what differentiates sticker charts from to-do lists is that children feel really bad when they can’t add a sticker.

Sticker Chart alternative

Describe the behaviour that is done right. E.g. “I see a child who came home, and took out his homework straight away. That is what I call taking responsibility”.

Describe what your child does well, rather than evaluating them.

Avoid evaluations e.g. “Good girl/ boy”.

Limit-setting and boundary testing behaviour

  1. Create a climate of co-operation.
    1. Listen with compassion and respect.
    2. Punishment doesn’t work. It undermines this climate.
  2. Describe the problem (without evaluation, blame, or accusation).
  3. State feelings without too much intensity.
  4. Offer different choices of acceptable behaviour.
  5. Take action to solve the problem.


  • If this problem re-occurs frequently, use problem solving.
  • If children are frequently misbehaving, look first at the climate of respect.


This series

This is the third episode in a great four-part series on Autonomy-Supportive Parenting Style. (Part 4 isn’t published yet).

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