When to Use a Reward Chart

Often parents aren’t sure when to use a reward chart, and for what behaviors. The truth is, a well designed reward chart has the flexibility to be used for a variety of situations. It can be used to bring about a change in your child’s behavior, to improve particular behaviors, to encourage particular goals, to get rid of contrary behavior, and so on.

Maybe there are behaviors that you want to get rid of, such as:

  • hitting playmates
  • swearing
  • ignoring your instructions
  • refusing to clean up after themselves
  • resisting bedtime
  • regularly throwing tantrums

Maybe you want to encourage good behaviors and habits, such as:

  • using manners
  • sharing
  • tidying up
  • brushing teeth
  • finishing dinner at the table
  • getting ready for bed
  • washing hands
  • getting dressed

Or there may be those educational activities that you want to encourage, such as:

  • Learning and practicing the times tables
  • reading
  • doing and completing homework
  • practicing spelling and writing

Or encouraging developmental stages, such as:

  • potty training
  • sleeping through the night
  • waking up in a dry bed

In fact using a reward chart wisely and with a clear goal, just about anything and any situation can be tackled. If you’ve been butting heads with your child over bedtime then focus on that, or maybe your child has been bullying their younger brother or sister, then focus on that.

BUT (there’s always a but), be aware that some behavior goals might be out of reach for certain age groups. It’s important that your child is at an age and developmental level where the task or behavior you want to encourage is consistently achievable, otherwise your child (and you) may become frustrated. It’s always a good idea when thinking about when to use a reward chart, to remember that it should be fun, achievable and positive. A reward chart is a positive reinforcement tool and should always be approached with this in mind. (More on Positive Reinforcement later)

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