The Reward Chart
Positive attention and praise are the most effective rewards for good behaviour because they reinforce good behaviour on the spot and help a child make the connection between what you are saying and what they’ve just done.
Use the Reward Chart to award stickers for good behaviour, and when your child has collected enough stickers to get them to the top of the chart, you can reward them with a treat or an outing (maybe even of their own choosing). When your child misbehaves, remove a sticker from the chart. Tell them why you are doing this, so they understand there are consequences for their bad behaviour.
Reward Chart or Reward Tower?
After five or ten stickers, the parents should give a final goal or reward to aim for, like an outing. With a large family, each child could have their own chart. Alternatively, a joint chart might help combat sibling rivalry as the kids will have to work together to achieve a common goal. Older children might appreciate something a little different from their younger siblings; a reward tower or jar given to the child with three marbles already inside and the chance to earn more marbles with good behaviour followed by a treat of their choice when the jar is full. Try to avoid using sugary treats or other food as a reward - outings are the best (and healthiest) option.
The Reward Chart should have specific categories written on it (using pictures or symbols for younger children) such as ‘a clean plate’, ‘a tidy room’, and the child will be given a sticker, token or coupon whenever they achieve these goals. Reward towers are more flexible, rewarding the older child when they respond well to a situation, and working in conjunction with the House Rules.
Reward Chart or Star Chart?
To encourage good behaviour in one particular area, like potty training, simple Star Charts will work better. Here, you focus on the positive, just giving your child a star when they make it to the toilet rather than peeling off stickers to punish them each time they don’t!
How do I make a Reward Chart?
If the idea of making your own really fills you with dread, there’s a range of individual or family reward charts available to buy, for boys and girls of all ages which integrate coupon, credit and sticker systems.
Better yet, get creative and develop a chart based on something your child or children love, make it with them and mutually decide on the rewards to be made available when targets are hit. Remember to cover your chart in sticky-back plastic or get it laminated so that you can re-use the chart and peel the stickers off as well as put them on!
If your children are sharing the chart, tailor it to work for older children, and think about the areas where your children are finding it difficult to work together. If you’re using the Shared Chore Technique you could add ‘share a chore’ to your chart to reinforce positive behaviour.
Ideas for Reward Charts
- If they love drawing, make a dot-to-dot chart (there are plenty of free dot-to-dots you can download from the Internet), allowing one line to be drawn in for good behaviour, or erased for bad behaviour. Similarly, create a colour-by-numbers chart where each child has a colour and a picture will emerge once the chart has been filled in. These two charts in particular encourage sibling cooperation.
- The reward box could be a cardboard box filled with rubber snakes or little balls - or anything, really - which the child can fish out with a net each time they are well-behaved. Four snakes and they qualify for a treat!
- Try the Placemat Reward Chart to encourage fussy eaters to eat a balanced meal.
- Mad mornings? Use categories like 'brushed my teeth', 'put my clothes on' and 'made my bed' in a morning reward chart alongside a strict morning routine. Clean the chart off each night and give the kids a sticker for each activity they do on time when they get up, so you get out of the door feeling less stressed!
- Use One to One Bonding as a reward, so that the child can get some alone-time with each parent.
Don’t feel daunted if these charts sound too much like hard work. Making them should be fun for you and the kids and the benefits of the reward system will become immediately apparent as soon as you start using them.