intro

Benefits of using reward charts

Reward charts are a powerful tool to incentivise children to modify their behaviour.
(Not sure what is a reward chart? Head to this page for an introduction)

They are incredibly useful even in situations where children have been showing ADHD behaviour.

In terms of benefits, the list can be summarised as: fun, motivating, and fulfilling.

Why are reward charts fun?

There is a simple reason why reward charts are fun: they are visually appealing and draw the instinct of curiosity children naturally have.

By allowing children to put their own stickers to the charts, or maybe draw their marks, they will have fun mixing colours and faces to match certain patterns established in their minds.

They are also fun for children because they shift the focus from completing tasks and chores to accumulating markers and stickers, which leads us to the next point…

Why are reward charts motivating?

Motivation to complete reward charts comes simply from the sense of progress they provide at all times.

As a parent, make sure to put the chart easily visible in the kids bedroom or in the family living room so they will have a constant reminder of the two important elements on the chart: the reward and the progress.

If the appropriate balance between challenge and frequent progress updates, kids will eventually complete the chart and claim their reward, which leads us to the next point…

Why are reward charts fulfilling?

It is well known that adults benefit from small rewards when accomplishing personal goals in life.
So why would children be any different?

Completing a reward chart yields two important outcomes: the reward initially set (the obvious result) but also gives children a strong sense of accomplishment for their hard work.

This means that your job as a dedicated parent is to also provide motivation while the chart is being completed incrementally, not only when it is done. Remember that!

Summary

By internalising the three reasons above, you can provide your children with the appropriate motivation and will set yourself for success.

It can also be helpful to remember our collection of tips to use a reward chart successfully.

What is a reward chart?

Reward charts, sometimes also known as behaviour charts, are listings used to track and organises house activities in order to teach values and discipline to children of different ages.

The basic form incorporates a particular positive behaviour to be achieved (the goal), combined with granular actions that reinforce the demonstration of such behaviour.

Parents can choose simple actions like “say thanks” or “say please“, or sometimes age-appropriate chores like “set the table” or “make the bed“.

Here is a simplified example of how a reward chart can be used to stimulate a consistent bedtime routine:

Reward Chart example for bedtime routine

To track progress using the chart it is possible to use ticks, happy/sad faces, or even stickers to make it super visual.

Finally, a reward is also to be set by parents and children together in order to generate the appropriate motivation to reach the expected goal.

General tips and tricks

  • Be positive
    Don’t phrase the goal as something negative like “stop leaving your bedroom a mess”; a positive version of that could be “have a nice and tidy bedroom”.
  • Be realistic!
    Children need time to change their behaviour and they also need (no pun intended) baby steps in order to hit these goals.
  • Be creative!
    Getting the same reward over and over again is a guaranteed recipe for failure in the long run.
  • Be consistent!
    When a reward is set, make sure your children cannot get the same reward in other ways. For example, if the reward is to go to the swimming pool but they will go with the neighbours whenever they decide to go, the effect of the reward is lost.
  • Be timely!
    Children probably will lose interest in the activities and reward if they have to do something hundreds of times before receiving the reward.
  • Be visual!
    Kids are visual learners and naturally curious. You can stick pictures related to their behaviour or the reward to make the chart more attractive to them.

For a more detailed guide, we have also published a more comprehensive text explaining how to use reward charts effectively with children.