Modifying Child Behavior With Reward Charts

September 7, 2021 / Parent Resources

Reward charts are one of the most effective tools that help promote positive behavior. When your child knows that they’re being rewarded for a specific task, they’re more likely to continue to do it.

Setting up your reward chart:

  1. Choose a chart: You could use an app or make one on your own. You could build the chart according to your child’s interests; for example, if they like solving puzzles, your chart could look like a puzzle, and each sticker could serve as a piece of the puzzle!
  1. Clearly describe the behavior you’re looking to change: Instructions like “Clean your room” might be too vague. Replace it with something specific like “Dust your bed”. Additionally, try to make your instructions as positive as possible; instead of saying “Don’t leave your dirty socks on the floor”, say “Put your used clothes inside the laundry basket.”
  1. Give stickers right after the behavior – Let your child know that their positive behavior is appreciated by giving them their sticker immediately. You could even follow it up with praise like “I love how you’re sharing your toys with your friend. Here’s your star.”
  1. Choose short-term rewards – It is only after your child gets a certain number of stickers that they get their real reward. For example, you can tell them “If you get over 20 stickers for this activity this month, you’ll receive a new toy as a gift!”

Although this develops your child’s patience, they’re likely to feel bored with merely collecting stickers and waiting for their real reward. Instead, try to give them their reward right after your child earns their sticker. It could be as simple as a family bike ride or movie night (where they get to pick the movie).

  1. Avoid punishing your child – It might be frustrating if you don’t observe a quick change in your child’s behavior. However, punishing them will only come in the way of their progress. Try to encourage them for their efforts instead.
  1. Phase out your reward chart – Gradually, you can start increasing the amount of time between stickers. Instead of giving your kids a sticker each day for positive behavior, change it to one sticker every two days. This is a good way to ensure that they continue with their behavior. Eventually, you can stop using your chart.
  1. Measure your child’s progress – For example, you can first see how often your child hits (or any negative behavior you’re hoping to modify) before you start using your reward chart. Then, check again when you start using the chart. This way, you’ll know whether the chart is working.

What’s your opinion on reward charts? Let us know your thoughts!