Reward Charts for Children

Contributor: Michele Meleen
Reward chart with stars

A reward chart for children is a useful tool for parents who want to use positive reinforcement in their kids' development. A reward chart for kids is 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.

Free Printable Reward Charts for Kids

You don't have to be crafty or rich to provide a useful reward chart for your kids. Click on the image of the free printable chart that best suits your needs to download and print. Use the Adobe Guide if you have any issues downloading the printable charts.

Weekly Star Chart

Track your child's weekly tasks with this visually appealing star chart. Write in the tasks along the bottom, rewards across the top, and either color in each star or add a sticker to it each day it is achieved.

Monthly Reward Chart

Keep track of your child's achievements each day for a month using this calendar-style chart. In the blank section at the top, write in the guidelines for earning the reward. Each day in the calendar square you can either write a note, draw happy or sad faces, color with red for warning or green for great, or add a sticker.

Punch Card Reward Chart

When you want to track and reward specific tasks or behaviors, a longer-term chart is ideal. In this chart, each task has its own punch card where you can either use a fun hole punch to mark each time the task is completed or add a sticker. When a punch card is full, your child receives a reward. This allows them to earn rewards at different times rather than trying to do great at everything all the time.

Long-Term Goal Reward Chart

When your child is working toward a large reward or long-term goal, it can be helpful to see their progress. This bullseye chart features 30 spaces where you can add a sticker for every time your child completes a step toward their goal.

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 chore chart or star chart for kids 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 potty training reward chart can be an effective motivator for some kids.
  • Behavior: If you're trying to turn a few negative behavior patterns around, a behavior 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.
  • Reading: When you want to encourage your child to participate in a valuable activity, such as reading, a children's reading chart helps track the number of books they've read. If your child is a struggling reader or simply doesn't enjoy reading, a reward chart could help them develop a love of reading.

Make Your Own Reward Chart

You can make your own reward charts using common craft materials or household items. First, consider what exactly you want to reward and how you would keep track of that. Use the printables for inspiration on layout and design.

Advent Calendar Reward Chart

If you've got an advent calendar at home, put it to work outside the holiday season too. You can also make your own advent calendar using fabric or clothespins and envelopes. Insert small rewards such as little toys or notes with a reward written on them in the daily pockets of your advent calendar. Pin pieces of paper over top of the advent calendar days with tasks or days of the week written on them. Each day your child achieves their goal, they get to open the advent calendar reward for that day. This works great for very young children because it makes tasks fun, interactive, and gives them instant gratification and praise.

See-Through Reward Jar

Use baby food jars, mason jars, or make the recycled see-through piggy bank craft for a 3D take on the reward chart. Draw a horizontal line with a permanent marker on the outside of the clear jar to show how much your child needs to fill it before earning a reward. Keep a jar of pennies, buttons, or beads kids can add one-at-a-time to the jar each time they complete a task.

Color-By-Number Reward Chart

Hang a free printable color-by-number page to use as a reward chart. Assign a task or day of the week to each number and write it next to the number on the coloring page. For short-term rewards, your child can color in all of one number when it is accomplished. For long-term goals, they can color one section of each number at a time. When the picture is filled in, they earn their reward.

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.

Reward Ideas

The success of your reward chart depends on the type of reward you offer. It's very important to 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
  • Books
  • 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.

Caucasian family walking in park

Positive Reinforcement

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 with children's rewards charts is an effective way to encourage desired behavior while keeping a focus on the positive.

Reward Charts for Children