A reward chart for children is a useful tool for parents who want to use positive reinforcement in their kids' development. It's also a helpful aid in encouraging good behavior or as a visual reminder of how a child's actions have a positive or negative effect.
Types of Reward Charts
Reward charts don't all serve the same purpose. Some parents may use it in an effort to curb negative behavior, while others use it as a motivator for good grades. Common reward charts may address the following issues:
- Chores: Parents often expect kids to contribute to the family in various ways, including performing chores like making their beds, sweeping floors, setting the table and feeding pets. Although most young children enjoy being helpful, this positive attitude may fade as they grow older; parents may find themselves giving reminders more often. A reward chart that provides visual evidence of how close children are to a treat or other reward may motivate them to complete their chores.
- Toilet training: Many frustrated parents look for help when it comes to toilet training a youngster, especially one who has regressed or been resistant to leaving diapers behind. A reward chart can be an effective motivator for some kids.
- Behavior: If you're trying to turn a few negative behavior patterns around, a reward chart for children may help. This could include using bad language, hitting siblings or screaming. Parents may find it helpful to place a sticker on a chart for each day a child refrains from negative behavior, with the promise of a reward after a set amount of time.
Benefits of a Reward Chart for Children
Charts that keep tabs on progress with the expectation of a reward at the end have some benefits, including:
- Visual aid: Children enjoy being able to see tangible results of their good behavior. They can count how many "stars" or "smiley faces" they are away from their goal. Placing the chart in an easily accessible place for them serves as a constant reminder, so consider putting it at eye-level in an area of the home in which they spend a lot of time.
- Distributes control: One lesson that many children have to learn is that they're in control of their own behavior. With a chart, children know that they are responsible for each stamp, sticker or colored spot being there.
- Motivating: While reward charts may not solve every problem, they're often beneficial enough for kids to work through some issues. Even the most nonchalant child enjoys praise for her hard work and positive attitude. By rewarding good behavior, you're more likely to continue encouraging it.
The success of your reward chart depends on the type of reward you offer. It's very important reward your child immediately, or soon after a child completes the chart -- this helps reinforce the belief that parents can be counted on. Keep your child's interests in mind when doling out rewards. Some ideas include:
- Ice cream cone from a favorite shop
- Small baby doll
- Trip to the park or zoo
- Playdate with friends
- Movie date
- Crayons or markers
- A day out alone with Mom or Dad
- Matchbox car
- Toy train
Rewards don't have to be expensive, and it's best if they are not too elaborate if you plan on rewarding a child every week or so.
Finding Reward Charts
It's simple enough to make your own reward chart with pen and paper or with a computer program. If you prefer a printable version, these websites offer a variety of templates:
While a reward chart can be a big help in curbing certain behaviors, a parent's praise is often a bigger motivator. Make sure you take the time to praise your child any time you see him sharing or picking up toys without being asked. This positive reinforcement may help him want to continue using the good behavior, and pairing verbal reinforcement with the visual reinforcement of a behavior chart can double the effect. Recognizing good behavior is an effective way to encourage desired behavior while keeping a focus on the positive.