Why and how to use a rewards chart to promote positive behaviour
Contributor Helen Neale creates rewards charts for her children to help guide her children through school, chores and many other duties. Read on to find out how why she does it.
I started Kiddycharts as over the years raising my two children, I have found reward charts to be a huge help in encouraging positive behaviour as well as breaking bad habits.
Like all mums out there I've often needed a way of motivating my children...sometimes I even get sick of myself nagging! I've found reward charts can provide the positive reinforcement for children while receiving praise for a job well done.
So often as parents, I think we can find ourselves at a loss on how to help our children.
Reward charts provide a practical means for a parent to take control, but also involving the children in the solution.
Sometimes it's not just the children who need some guidance as well, but us as parents too!
Myself and my friends have used reward charts from the age of around two, and far beyond. We have employed them for potty training, doing chores, getting homework done, and even to encourage healthy eating.
One time that I've had success with my son, thanks to a reward chart, is when we had to try to get him to stop sucking his thumb.
My son sucked his thumb from early on right up until he was aged five, until a trip to the dentist showed that the habit really needed to be stopped or he may require braces in the future.
I was dreading how we were going to stop this habit that he found so comforting.
Thankfully, the dentist talked to him about it, as we did at home, and we set up a reward chart so that he got a sticker for every night that he didn't suck his thumb.
The combination of our charts, so he understood the importance of it as well as the reward of a sticker, worked a treat. From then on, he no longer sucked it again.
We were so proud of him and he certainly earned his sticker every day.
Some people have the misconception that by setting up a reward chart you end up needing to spend a lot of money buying toys for children.
After Christmas and birthdays, you certainly don't want to be buying more so this is definitely not the case! In fact, in my experience my children when given the choice have chosen time with us as a family rather than a monetary gift.
By rewarding children with time, rather than toys, not only is this great for your pocket, but it also helps to build the bond between you all.
Some ideas for rewards that I recommend include things such as:
- A meal out together
- Movie night
- Doing an art project together
- Museum trip, there are so many free ones around these days
- Going to the skate park
- Extra story at bedtime of their choice and
- ...then of course you can always give them a toy on occasion (I generally just make it a charity shop purchase)
Learn more about how reward charts can help your kids. Read on to the next page!
I've had some people ask are reward charts the right choice as should children need external validation?
In an ideal world, it would be wonderful if children did their chores without being repeatedly told, but parenting is a tough gig, and sometimes we do need some extra help.
I believe we often give children external validation generally: for example, if they hurt themselves we give them a hug. I have also found the reward chart adds to the discussion about behaviour and can be a good way of connecting with your children and building their self esteem when they have achieved their goal.
When you find yourself in need of a reward chart it's time to choose one: I have many available for download for free on the site. It is such a great idea to get your child involved.
They can help to decorate and put up the chart and you can discuss the aim of the chart, and how it will work to them.
To get the most out of your chart, I'd offer the following tips:
- Make it part of your routine-some days we get so busy as parents we might forget adding a sticker so by building it into your day (e.g. after dinner) so it doesn't get forgotten
- Be consistent-make sure they get a sticker on their chart when they have achieved their task (toddlers will need this straight away for them to understand)
- Choose personalised rewards-you know your child best so choose a reward that will be exciting for them. Perhaps come up with a reward together!
- Get your child involved-include them in setting up your reward chart, they may like to colour the background or help choose the chart as well as add the sticker themselves each day
- Keep it simple-I'd recommend doing only a few behaviours at a time on the chart, and even pick one that you know they are good at so they don’t loose interest when they aren’t getting stickers for anything. Stick with 2 max for 2 year olds, 3 for 3 year olds, and so on….
- Update your chart-After you've received the desired behaviour from your child ,you might like to give it a break for a few weeks. Next time you need a chart you can refresh it by choosing a new chart and new reward to keep things exciting! Don’t keep on using them all the time, the loose their effectiveness then.
I hope this has helped some of you know a little more about how reward charts can help your family...parenting can sometimes be a rocky path so sometimes we all need a little extra help in guiding our children along the way!