How elastic bands can change family life

As a parent, it’s easy to fall into a cycle of noticing your child’s bad behaviour more than their good.

We all do it, don’t we? We get to the end of the day and realise we’ve done nothing but nag or moan at them.

One idea that can really help to change this is the rubber band method.

Sunflower’s Chief Executive, Nichola Atkinson says: “This positive parenting technique has been around for a while and we love it here at Sunflower because it really is a great way to help parents focus on and reward positive behaviour in their children.”

Sunflower delivers a programme designed to enable children to thrive and reach their full potential – children with diagnosed health, behavioural, emotional or learning difficulties, others who are underachieving at school and some, who for no obvious reason, need a little extra support.

How the rubber band method works

Place a number of rubber bands around your wrist (four, five or more) at the beginning of the day. Your aim is to have all the bands on the opposite wrist by the end of the day by moving one band over to the opposite wrist each time you praise your child for good behaviour. Some suggestions for what you could move a rubber band across for include:

  • Completing homework
  • Not answering back
  • Helping with pets or younger siblings
  • Tidying up
  • Being helpful when out shopping
  • Saying please and thank you
  • Not interrupting you
  • Finishing all their food on the plate
  • Eating a piece of fruit or veg instead of a biscuit

It’s easy to miss the little examples of positive behaviour – especially on those days when your child is being particularly challenging – so the bands serve as a visual reminder.

This technique can be adapted for children to use, encouraging them to focus on a certain behaviour. For example, they could move a band every time they drink a glass of water or try a new food. You can add a reward or star chart to this, if this might also help your child.

There are various versions of this technique online and some great success stories. Why not give it a try?

If your child is struggling to cope, or you feel they need extra support, contact the Sunflower Programme: 01483 531498,,




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