Topic 4 SMART goals, Appropriate Rewarding, Self-Monitoring and Positive Feedback

  • Specific: Well-defined, clear, and unambiguous
  • Measurable: With specific criteria that measure your progress toward the accomplishment of the goal
  • Achievable: Attainable and not impossible to achieve
  • Realistic: Within reach, realistic, and relevant to your life purpose
  • Timely: With a clearly defined timeline, including a starting date and a target date. The purpose is to create urgency.

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Choose among different goals or set your own goal

A 4-step method to set goals in CBT

  • The reward is given consistently and is predictable.
  • Always include praise.
  • Make sure the child wants and likes the reward.
  • Use different rewards because sometimes they lose their effectiveness.
  • The reward must be earned – it comes after a positive behavior.
  • Label the behavior — be descriptive (e.g., Thank you for doing your chores right after you came home from school.)
  • Reward frequently
  • Withhold the reward for incorrect behavior.
  • Make sure you can control the child’s access to the reward
  • Reward behaviors that come close to the behavior goal – it is necessary to reward effort.
  • Use age-appropriate rewards

Rewarding to promote healthy eating. What parents should do and what to avoid:

  • verbal and not material rewards;
  • small instead of big rewards;
  • reward for the quality and the quantity (e.g., rewarding when the child just tried to eat legumes even if he did not eat all the amount he had on his plate);
  • non-food rewards (e.g., “Once you eat your food we will go to the park to play“ instead of “Once you eat your food you will eat chocolate);
  • no punishment (e.g., “If you do not eat your vegetables you will not seeTV“ or “if you do not eat all your food, you will not play“);
  • no mixed messages (e.g., we do not used unhealthy foods like sweets or unhealthy behaviors like screen time to reward children since they automatically consider that behaviors as good).

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  • Self-monitoring can be used to record dietary habits, behaviors and / or thoughts.
  • With self-monitoring the child perceives his behavior, determines the parameters he wants to change, identifies problem areas of dietary behavior, high risk situations, negative messages, consciously regulates food intake and monitors his progress.
  • Food diaries can be used as self-monitoring tools.
  • Families should be instructed to partner with their children on maintaining a diary of food, physical activity, and/or sedentary activities on a daily basis, starting with only 1 or 2 target behaviors and increasing to more behaviors after the monitoring routine has been established.
  • To maintain monitoring, parents need to encourage their children in a nonjudgmental way by reminding them to write the target behavior on several occasions during the day and by reviewing the diary with them at the end of the day.
  • Goals for behavior change should be made in a small-step manner.
  • They should be unambiguous, attainable, and routinely reexamined.

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  • Feedback (how the child ultimately did) on subjective or objective information, observations or measurements (dietary habits and other behaviors) is important.
  • Feedback enhances child mobilization and contributes to the achievement of goals.

  • Positive feedback, such as pointing out and praising positive behaviors while ignoring or positively addressing behaviors that should be changed, is critical for success.
  • Parents should be discouraged from using food as a reward (ie, celebrating with ice cream, going out to eat) or a punishment (restricting food for bad behavior).