The Bead Counter, it Worked for Us

At the Centre éducatif les petits pinceaux, we had a chance to implement several strategies recommended by the behaviour consultant, Jocelyne Desbiens, from Children’s Integration Support Services (CISS) through the Positive Outcomes Program (POP). We implemented the bead counter strategy to support skill development and positive reinforcement of children.

The Concept
The bead counter is a set of beads strung on a thread which slide freely from top to bottom. Each and every time the child moves a bead, he/she is reminded and praised for the desired behaviour.Bead Counter Example

The Types of Bead Counters
We use three types of bead counters:
• one bead counter for the child who demonstrates challenging behaviours, which includes 5 beads, and is worn at the waist by the educator responsible for the child’s group;
• one bead counter for each of the groups, which includes 10 beads, and is also worn at the waist by the educator responsible for the group;
• one bead counter for the whole center which includes 7 big beads and is hung in the room which can be seen by everyone.

The Implementation
The five bead counter
It is used for a child who demonstrates challenging behaviours. The expectations are modified in regards to this child’s needs. When the child demonstrates a desired behaviour, following a clear expectation (i.e. expresses themselves verbally during a disagreement with a peer), the educator validates the desired behaviour and asks the child to lower a bead from the counter while giving him/her praise.

The ten bead counter
It is used for the group in general. For example, during tidy-up time, the educator makes sure that the expectations are clear. When the group completes the routine or task, a child is chosen to lower a bead from the counter (we ensure a rotation within the group of children). The educator validates the group’s behaviour and provides praise.

The giant seven bead counter
It is used for all the groups. When one of the smaller bead counters is completed, a bead from the giant counter is lowered by the educator. A reward is offered to all the children in the group. The rewards are mini-outings, small surprises or special activities.

The Outcomes
We used the bead counters for all desired behaviours. Once the children understood the concept, we used the bead counter to achieve specific objectives (i.e. using words instead of hitting, helping to tidy up and get dressed, asking a friend to play, respecting peer proximity, etc.) which were agreed upon by the team.

After two weeks, the children were motivated and proud of their achievements. We were successful in increasing the desired behaviours of each child as well as among the group as each educator became more aware of the importance of positive reinforcement.

Sara Mayer, RECE
Sophie Chartrand, RECE
Diane LaRocque