How to use reward charts with children
Using reward charts wisely can provide the correct framework for kids to form long-lasting good habits.
(check this blog post in case you want to know what a reward chart is)
Through a very didactic way, young kids can start learning the importance of accomplishing basic tasks such as homework, cleaning up toys, brushing their teeth; all important steps for a good bedtime routine.
Providing positive reinforcement for tasks that kids usually have trouble with can definitely help with the desired behavioural change and at some point in time it will come naturally to them.
Here is how to keep your kids motivated and use a reward chart to get results:
Keep it simple
Don’t overwhelm yourself or your kids. Start simple with just one, or maybe two, behavioural tasks that you would like your kids to work on. If the chart is too long or complicated it will be harder for you and your children to stick to it.
Be clear and specific on the behaviour
Make clear what behaviour you are trying to achieve with your kid, for example, instead of “be polite with people”, you can try a simpler “say thank you more often”.
Be specific on the prize
The prize must be something that the kid gets excited about, also make sure to let them know how many stickers or positive marks on the chart they need to get to the prize, so the expectations are clear for everyone.
About the prize, be realistic and choose something they can earn after a week or so.
Frequent reinforcement is key!
As an added bonus you can try to offer healthy prize options such as more time at the park, riding a bicycle, playing with friends, or going to the beach.
Be consistent and keep it positive
Make sure to mark the chart or put a stick on it immediately after you kid showed the desired behaviour. In case you are out, bring the chart with you when possible.
Also, remember to keep it positive! You don’t want the experience to sound like a punishment to your child. It’s also best to set up the chart in a way so your child gets a sticker every time they engage in the behavior rather than making it a daily yes/no chart. Bonus points if they can stick and mark their progress directly onto the chart.
A few months later (one or two), once your child has mastered the target behaviour, you can move to different tasks or phase it out slowly by replacing/removing one or two tasks.
Always remember to tell your kids how proud you are of them and all the hard work they had done!
Ready to start?
To help you start off on the right foot, here are some suggestions of reward chart templates for you: