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The Hood Magazine

DIY Reward Charts

Mar 21, 2015 04:18PM ● By Hood Magazine

Photo courtesy of Ann Louisa Photography

By Amber Bruns, MS, BCBA, and Hazel Ashbeck, MS, BCBA, Southwest West Central Service Cooperative 


Reward charts and token boards are an easy approach to integrating positive reinforcement into your child’s day. It provides a way to frequently and immediately tell your child that they are doing good things. It’s an excellent opportunity to focus on the positive things that your child may do instead of getting so focused on the negative things.

There are a few tips and strategies to know in order to help make your reward system successful. First, select a positive behavior to focus on. For younger children it could be simple things like picking up their toys or brushing their teeth, and for older children it could be completing their morning routine by themselves or a list of chores to complete. It’s just very important to clearly outline what the child should do.

Next, design your reward chart. Enter the search term “reward chart” or “token board” into a web search engine and many different ideas and templates will come up to provide some inspiration. There are many different ways to approach it and pick something your child would enjoy. Your tokens could be play money, stickers, checkmarks, etc. Once you have your board and tokens ready, identify the items that you want your child to earn and what the “price” is for those items. Consider using 5 tokens for a sucker or 10 tokens for a matchbox car. It’s up to you to decide! Just be sure the price isn’t set too high or too low or that the behavior you are looking for is too hard.

Provide your child with an explanation of the reward system. It is best to explain the behavior, the tokens, and get him or her excited about the items he/she is working toward. After these things are done, your reward system is ready to go. It’s important to remember that reinforcement works! So, if you find the behavior you’re looking for is not improving or happening more often, re-evaluate your system. Do you have items that your child is really interested in? Is the price of the items set too high or is he/she not getting access to rewards soon enough?

Reward systems provide a nice visual reminder of what a child is working toward. It also helps parents put more focus on the positive behaviors children can do. It’s sometimes easy to get stuck in nagging or scolding and telling children what not to do. It’s best to tell children what they should do instead. Celebrate with your child in reaching goals and, most importantly, make it fun!
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