What makes the perfect reward chart?

I need your advice.

I’m helping the online pocket money website Roosterbank create a reward chart. They want to come up with something  that will be both useful for parents and fun for kids, and FREE for everyone, regardless of whether or not they use the Roosterbank site. (They’re nice like that). I have to confess though that I don’t have a great track record when it comes to reward charts.

I’ve tried reward charts a few times with Belle, but just haven’t been able to get it right.

Our last attempt a few months ago included around eight simple tasks to do every day, really easy things like ‘clean teeth’ and ‘go to bed without having a breakdown’, yet it was abandoned, (like the toothbrush), after only 10 days.

"Toothbrush"

The difficulty was deciding how exactly the thing should work. Should she have to get every single item ticked every day to claim her pocket money at the end of the week, or was there scope for error? We tried the first approach initially, but it did not go well. One bedtime tantrum on the first night, and that was it for the week – where was her incentive then to eat all her lunch on the other six days?

In the second week we discovered just how short-termist (and cunning) Belle can be.

“OK,” we’d say, “time to clean your teeth!”

“I don’t want to,” she would say.

“But if you don’t clean them, you can’t get the tick on your chart.”

“That’s alright,” she’d say, “I don’t want the money. I’m seeing Gran at the weekend and she’ll buy me my Jacqueline Wilson magazine.”

What can you say to that? The reward chart had been about handing over responsibility and control, and she’d grasped it firmly. With both hands. As far as reward systems go, it was a failure.

So you can see why I need your help.

If you were designing a flexible reward chart to be used by hundreds of parents, whether or not they give regular pocket money, what would it look like? What tasks would you include? What scope would there be for failure? Would it be completely positive, with ticks for good behaviour, or would there be negative marks for doing something naughty?

Have you tried reward charts with your children before? What has worked well? What’s gone not so well? Are your kids rewarded with money or specific treats?

I would love to get lots of ideas for Roosterbank, (and come up with a system that means Belle cleans her teeth every day), so please, please, please leave a comment with your thoughts!

Once it’s finished, you’ll be able to claim your very own FREE copy of the chart from Roosterbank to use at home, even if you’re not signed up to the site. Find out how here.

Finally, if you’re feeling extra helpful, I even have big ticks and stickers for people who share this post for me.

Here you go:

P.S. If you’re a blogger and Roosterbank use one of your ideas, your blog details can be included on the chart, meaning your blog could be stuck on the fridges of hundreds of parents throughout the country!

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73 Comments

  1. mummy2five
    19 November, 2012 / 3:49 pm

    We use one for overall behaviour, so if they are well behaved & do as we ask then they get a star, they have to have a good amount of stars to get their pocket money each week of £2 we then give them £1 to spend on what ever they like & the other £1 then goes into saving. We allow them to spend the saved money when we go on day trips or holiday. It works well in our house but only because they we have a few children & it becomes competitive. I

    • 19 November, 2012 / 4:16 pm

      That’s a really good point about siblings – I think Belle would be much more inclined to get into the spirit of the whole things if she had someone to compete with!

      What sort of things win a star? Is it the same for all your children or do you vary the task according to the child?

  2. 19 November, 2012 / 3:56 pm

    Instead of ticks we use stickers, I have a wide selection and they can pick thir favourite. Also as well as money can use little wrapped gifts for little ones. Money may mean more as they get older, but when little fun-size buttons in a scrap of wrapping paper is exciting! Of course we still pop a pound in the savings pot!

    • 19 November, 2012 / 4:18 pm

      I think that sounds lovely Sonya – everyone loves stickers and chocolate buttons! I think there is something a little bit more special about having a present when you’re little isn’t there? How old are your children?

      • 22 November, 2012 / 4:13 pm

        My big two are past the age of reward charts now, at 16 and 9, but I will need reward charts again soon with Syd who is 15 months!

  3. 19 November, 2012 / 4:09 pm

    Reusable stickers for starters. Stickers that can be written on by the parents to create their own reward system.

    Start the week with ALL the stickers for ALL the days. If tasks aren’t met or behaviour isn’t as expected then a sticker is removed to the bottom of the chart. Rewards can be given at the end of the week for the amount of stickers kept intact.

    Younger children can have (say) ten stickers for each day. Older children can have less stickers but with bigger rewards as their rule expectancy grows with their understanding.

    Use stickers again the following week for the same.

    Charts should be individual to the child and not a “family” chart then they can chart their own progress and not be compared to anyone else. This is flexible for each child and not specific for age groups or even special needs.

    • 19 November, 2012 / 4:20 pm

      I love the idea of reusable stickers Nickie and being able to personalise them for different children.

      I’m interested too in the idea of starting with all the stickers and losing them for bad behaviour – it’s the opposite to how a lot of parents work, but does then give that feeling at the beginning of the week of having already GOT the stickers, and needing to protect them.

      Are reward charts something you’ve used with your own kids?

      • 20 November, 2012 / 10:55 am

        Yes – on a few levels.

  4. 19 November, 2012 / 4:17 pm

    Maybe I’d have reusable stickers or markers and two ‘rooms’. The markers (aliens, ponies, whatever) need your help to get from one room to the other. Set a goal of how many bits of positive behaviour you are aiming for and load up one room. Then through the week move them out to their new home and at the end of the week reward based on how many you helped to move out. Turns it in its head a bit.

    I don’t use them much but I’ve heard say you should view everything as a privilege not a right. Then everything they do well helps towards a goal of having been good with a treat for having been a great family citizen.

    That said I’m not sure about charts; it’s a recipe for failure so some ability to win back lapses and not be too specific seems a good idea.

    • 20 November, 2012 / 11:09 am

      I love the idea of two rooms, I think that’s really sweet and captures the whole idea of making progress. I think you’re totally right too that there needs to be a way to make up for any lapses. It certainly didn’t work with Belle when missing a tick on day one messed up the rest of the week.

      Do you think there should be predefined tasks or with a chart like this would you make it more flexible, just suggesting tasks as they arise?

  5. 19 November, 2012 / 4:20 pm

    I wouldn’t make one that is too directive about what is rewarded as every child is different. We have tried numerous versions and currently use two systems. Cubes go in and out of a jar for small achievements that arent a massive focus but good to recognise like washing hands well or going to the loo alone, tidying up unasked or doing good sharing. Reward charts have a ladder type arrangement but tailored – my sons is a train track my daughters is a ladder with Moshi monsters. Both have different rewards at intervals of 5 up to 15 or 20 and can choose the sticker to go on the chart. Each has specific lists of reminders if things that will be rewarded that are our biggest behaviour challenges. Rewards are a treat, a book, a messsy craft activity of choice and at top either a ‘shed of special surprises’ or a treasure chest. They get to the top every so often and get a present worth about 10quid. When jar of cubes filled up they get some kind of treat or activity or present depending on what they’re into and I have to hand. The more prescriptive options I’ve struggled with so ours is quite free form and tailored to each child. Good luck!

    • 20 November, 2012 / 11:37 am

      I like the train track/ladder idea – it makes it a journey then doesn’t it? That’s nice. The more comments I read, the more I think I had completely the wrong approach with Belle, having daily tasks. Having this sort of approach means that if they forget to do something it doesn’t matter, it just takes longer to reach the target.

      What sort of things do you have in your reminder list?

  6. 19 November, 2012 / 4:33 pm

    Hmm. Ok so firstly, I would make it so that parents can add their own tasks and rewards as each child is different and likely to repsond to different things. Only their parents will know what those things are. So general ones are good but blank ones are good too.
    Secondly, I would stick to only praise and reward. Once you introduce negative points (either taking away points that have been awarded or noting ‘bad’ behaviour) if negates the point of the chart. Children can get confused and its better to tell them they didn’t get their point because of x,y,z rather than take away their achievments.
    Lastly, it need to be achievable. If a child has trouble achieving the amount of points it takes to get the reward, it can seem impossible and therefore be useless. There should be some way of allowing parents to choose the target number of points to be awarded and for some kids this should be done daily if needed.
    xx

    • 20 November, 2012 / 11:41 am

      Yep, totally agree that flexibility is going to be key with this, as it will have to work for all different types of children, parents and families. I think you’re right too about focussing on the positive. I know some people take a different approach, but my instinct is that the carrot is always better than the stick.

      What sort of tasks would you include? Do you think it works better having money or a ‘prize’ of some kind as a target?

  7. 19 November, 2012 / 4:52 pm

    I go for making the reward chart about one particular behaviour so at the moment we have one to get my son to stay in bed all night. If there are too many behaviours attached to one chart it gets too complicated for the child.
    Then I go with a full week of stickers, so seven (one for each day of success) earns a reward of predetermined choosing. You need to earn seven to succeed, so if you earn two then miss a day you only need to earn five more, so incentive to get back on the wagon so to speak.
    I would make the reward chart bright and fun. A stamp rather than stickers can be fun, or if stickers different colours so child gets to pick each day. I would have spaces for child’s name and behaviour desired and reward planned.

    • 20 November, 2012 / 11:43 am

      I think stamps are a good idea too. Kids love getting to stamp things don’t they? What sort of reward would you offer for seven days of good sleeping? Is it something that you choose or does your son get some input at the beginning?

  8. 19 November, 2012 / 4:59 pm

    Ok, from past experiences this is what works well with Chester:
    Have a wipe clean chart
    Have a chart with a maximum of 3 tasks
    if they do their task for that day then reward with a sticker, if they dont then either leave the square blank or if you feel you need to write on the chart a suggestion for how they could improve or a reminder of what they need to do.

    If when they get to the end of the week they have a sticker on each day for a task then they will be allowed a small treat/pocket money if they have a sticker on each day for more than one task up the reward accordingly. What I did was if he got a sticker on each day for all 3 tasks (very rare) than we would go to the cineworld £1 movies as a reward, he see’s it as a big treat for doing well with his tasks and it didnt break the bank to reward him!

    Then what I did was once he had got a sticker every day for a task I would remove that task from the reward chart and replace it with something else. But if the following week he would lapse on his task (for instance cleaning his teeth without a fuss) then it would be back on the chart the following week.
    After about a month he realised it was best to carry on with the good work!

    • 20 November, 2012 / 11:48 am

      Wipe clean is an excellent point! I LOVE my whiteboard and markers and I am pretty childlike 🙂

      Thinking from Roosterbank’s point of view, and being able to provide this free to parents, a wipe clean chart would be really good as it would be reusable, otherwise I guess it would only last as long as you could fit on stickers!

      Perhaps they could produce two versions – one that you could download and print out at home to use week after week, and one wipe clean version that would be sent out in the post. Maybe even with a special pen!

      *Gets distracted imagining all the different coloured pens*

  9. 19 November, 2012 / 5:27 pm

    We’ve got a brilliant reward chart we got from Cool Rewards – you set the tasks and award different coloured stickers when they have done the tasks. You predetermine how many stickers they need in each row/column before they get a reward and you predetermine the reward. There are little boxes underneath to write the goals and rewards in. So they know what they are working towards.

    I wouldn’t use a chart that focussed on removing stickers for bad behaviour as then a reward chart becomes a punishment only chart with no positive reinforcement. My daughter wouldn’t want to use a reward chart if she lost stickers for bad behaviour but didn’t get any for good behaviour – there’s not enough incentive or emotional gratification in that for her. She likes to feel good about herself by putting stars on for completing tasks. We ignore the blank spaces as I feel positive reinforcement is more effective (for us) than constant negativity.

    We keep our reward chart at the bottom of the stairs so that we remember to do it every night on our way up to putting her to bed. x

    • 20 November, 2012 / 11:50 am

      Interesting point Emma about WHERE to keep the reward chart. With Belle, one of the big problems was remembering it! I’m sure once you get into the habit it’s easier, but it’s really sensible to keep it somewhere where you know you’re going to see it.

      What sort of rewards have you found to be most motivating for your daughter?

  10. 19 November, 2012 / 7:17 pm

    Even though Spike is too young to understand he has one because like Mummy2Five said it becomes a competition for the eldest. Spud HATES if Spike gets a sticker for tidying up and he doesn’t (thats our biggest challenge on a daily basis – tidying up!)

    We have a plain chart and a mixture of stickers. They get special shiney ones for important things like staying in bed until a the sun comes up on the gro clock. If he still has stickers left on his chart at the end of the day he gets to play angry birds.

    A chart has to be customisable to suit the child, each one is different and money might work for some and treats might work for others we also have to make sure that if Spud does something good no matter how small that we reward him for it otherwise he doesnt have any stickers to take away when he is naughty! We also dont have set boxes for certain activities, we always praise the basics with stickers etc but we found it too limiting

    • 20 November, 2012 / 11:53 am

      Competition is a really useful part of it I think! Belle would probably have been much keener if she’d been up against Bee. Unfortunately I think 17 is a little old for a sticker chart 🙁

      (Although I reckon I’d like it if someone made ME a sticker chart…)

      How do you make sure you’re consistent in what gets a sticker and what means a sticker has to be taken away? Do you have predetermined things (other than the staying in bed) that your child KNOW means stickers?

  11. 19 November, 2012 / 7:54 pm

    We did a reward chart, with funky stickers, however it was not really a big success, I think the thing with kids is, they like to see it to believe it, otherwise its almost not ‘real’ So we give Pops a penny for each job after she does them (a penny is alot to a three year old) she puts it in her tub and watches it grow. Works like a charm 🙂

    • 20 November, 2012 / 10:55 am

      That sounds sweet – I can imagine a three year old loving a penny jar 🙂

      What sort of jobs do you get her to do for a penny?

  12. 19 November, 2012 / 8:45 pm

    For young children (under 5) one very clear goal is enough. Being good is just to ambiguous a concept for them to grasp, if you want to reinforce different behaviours maybe try a different one each week or day. Also specify exactly how many stickers they need to achieve to get a treat . My 4 year old is using one for getting to the toilet on time . We have told her if she gets 7 stickers in a row she gets a treat . Her 8 yr old sister is managing it which in some ways is better because I’m sometimes too soft.

    • 20 November, 2012 / 10:48 am

      I love the idea of an older sibling being in charge of the chart! It teaches them some valuable skills, at the same time as helping the younger child. What sort of approach does your eight year old take? Is she fair? I think if I let my 17 year old manage a chart for Belle she’d be a little OVER strict!

  13. 19 November, 2012 / 9:18 pm

    My daughter is just 5, and we’ve had best success with reward charts that are focussed on just a single activity. For example, we had a problem with her coming in and waking us up for silly reasons overnight, so we set up a reward chart where she got a sticker for each night she didn’t disturb us. Doing things that way makes it easy to set the rules for rewards – i.e. when you’ve got 10 stickers you’ll get a treat.

    When we were potty training we did a similar thing. First of all she got a sticker for each successful use of the potty, with a certain number of stickers meaning she got a treat (in this case a book). Then when she’d got the hang of that she would get a sticker for being dry for a whole day, and again a pre-defined number of stickers led to a treat.

    • 20 November, 2012 / 10:46 am

      Focussing on one activity is a good idea with young children, as anything too complicated can just be confusing.

      Did your daughter choose the reward she would like beforehand or did you choose it?

  14. 19 November, 2012 / 9:30 pm

    I used a homemade reward chart when K was potty training, back then the stickers alone were reward enough. My friends have had good results with working towards a special treat, for example 20 stars for good behaviour – how ever long that might take – means they can have a particular toy they’ve seen… Grandparents might need to be prepped to not give in to their demands though!

    • 20 November, 2012 / 10:45 am

      Stickers ARE awesome 🙂

      Very true that you need to have support from everyone in the family if these things are going to work. Consistency really is the key. (Which is why I think I’ve failed in the past!)

  15. 19 November, 2012 / 11:40 pm

    It doesn’t have to be a chart to work towards a reward, the chart can be the end in its own right. So you could have a starry night chart where they get stars to make the night brighter, or flowers to go in a garden. I don’t really like reward charts but as reminders they can help.

    • 20 November, 2012 / 10:43 am

      That’s such a good point! Why should we have to bribe our kids to be good? Why can’t good behaviour be something to strive for in its own right? I think this is crucial – the emphasis should be on the tasks you’re asking the child to do, and helping them to understand why they’re important, rather than just doing them with a comic in mind.

      • 24 November, 2012 / 5:35 pm

        It’s the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and it’s hugely important in Montessori terms. Alfie Kohn is someone to look up.

        You couldn’t get rid of that stray apostrophe in my comment could you? Am cringing…

  16. Ian Goodyear
    20 November, 2012 / 11:14 am

    We start off the week with pocket money, which is deducted for bad behaviour and added on to for good behaviour, so if they do all of their chores for two days and then miss out on day three, they still get the reward for competing days one and two successfully (say 50p a week as a starting point, with 5p added for doing a task and 5p deducted for not doing it). 10p is added on for them doing jobs that are helpful but above what their chores are, and 10p is deducted if they have to be told more than once to do something, fight, answer back or are rude. It works to a degree, and in this way, grandparents, friends parents and mum and dad all get a say in how much their pocket money should be. Every Saturday they see the money transfer from Dads account into their bank account.

    • 22 November, 2012 / 8:31 am

      Hi Ian, thanks for your comment. I like that your method has involvment from all the family. How many kids do you have and how old are they? I’m interested in how effective these sort of things are at different ages. For exmaple Belle, at 10, would probably happily pay a ‘fine’ for not doing certain things, and then try and earn the money back doing chores she doesn’t mind so much, but then she is sneaky!

  17. 20 November, 2012 / 11:31 am

    We only really use reward charts for the six weeks summer holidays! I print them out on the computer with each childs favourite character/superhero etc, with all seven days and tasks to be completed each day, there are ones they will always achieve eating breakfast/lunch/dinner, but also quite broad ones such as playing nicely with your brothers and sisters, helping when mummy asks you to do something. At the end of the day we go through the lists and tick the ones that have been achieved, as they are quite broad, most tasks are achieved, they get ticks for them and then a sticker at the end of the day. If they get all seven stickers they get money towards a toy/computer game (depending on age) that they have chosen at the beginning of the holidays, hopefully they will have enough money saved by the end of the six weeks to purchase the toy. It seems to work well and they all have something to focus on for the school holidays, having five children old enough to take part, they all become quite competitive.

    • 22 November, 2012 / 8:33 am

      Now that’s a good idea – I do need something to help me through the summer! It gives a nice acheivable focus as well doesn’t it? How old are your kids Mandi? How youngwere they when you started using reward charts?

  18. 20 November, 2012 / 11:58 am

    I love the idea of having customisable reward charts to suit the interest of the child. Our Leo gets deeply engrossed in certain subjects, like football at the moment and if he had a reward chart that was all about football he’d find it not only funny but i’m sure he’d love it. Of course that would last about a month before he moved on to something else!

    • 22 November, 2012 / 8:34 am

      OK, so it would need customable THEMES too then for kids as they go through different phases!

  19. Lisbeth
    20 November, 2012 / 12:18 pm

    They need an APP where they can be competitive with their friends. Perhaps their parents could leave comments with each ‘reward’. Integrate it into some sort of annoying Build-A-Farm site…

    • 22 November, 2012 / 8:35 am

      Hmmm… competition IS important isn’t it? Maybe if they WERE on Roosterbank there could be an option to link up with friends and see how much money they had saved? Perhaps encouraging the whole capitalist greed thing a bit young??

  20. 20 November, 2012 / 1:19 pm

    I think they need to kept simple for young children with just one or two goals or it can become a bit overwhelming for them and make sure it is placed somewhere that they can see. Keep it child friendly and interactive, how about an ink stamp that the child can put on the chart themselves, rather then a sticker or tick chart?
    Use rewards that your individual child would enjoy, some will love stickers, others might prefer some pennies.
    Make it a positive thing!

    • 22 November, 2012 / 8:37 am

      I think you’re right that it should be positive Emma. When you say young children, how young are you thinking? I’m guessing that the chart would evolve depending on the age of the child, but at what age do you think they become/stop being effective?

  21. 20 November, 2012 / 1:53 pm

    I’ve lots of ideas for reward charts, but one of my favourite charts I’ve used over the years working with children is my own design – A rocket chart.

    The aim is for littlies to reach the moon in a rocket (you can design the rocket, add their faces looking out of the window.)

    On the way up to the moon are stars. Each star is a reward (if they do something great – they move up one. If they show negative behaviour they go down.)

    When they reach the moon there is a big reward – something to work towards, but doesn’t need to be expensive. Perhaps their favourite day-trip out somewhere or an activity to look forward to.

    • 22 November, 2012 / 8:38 am

      This is a lovely idea Fi. I really like all the suggestions that are for journeys of some kind rather than simply listing days and tasks.What sort of age do you think this type of chart works best for?

  22. 20 November, 2012 / 2:09 pm

    We have a magnetic board with reusable magnetic stickers (ends up cheaper for me)
    My kids are 5 and 3 and this summer I saw down with them to discuss what they thought would be good to have on a sticker chart so they actually said things like they should be kind to each other, should always tell the truth etc. BUT and I think quite importantly we also decided on things that Daddy and I should do/not do – like don’t shout etc
    It works really well for us and I do think that they chose them rather than me dictating what they should do but also that they are allowed to give me a sticker and take them away (as you can imagine I haven’t had many presents due to shouting a lot!!!)
    We have ten stickers and then they can have a treat – sometimes this is a pencil, stickers but if away or Grandpa staying they might have something bigger – they choose but we set the budget.
    I look forward to seeing the end result

    • 22 November, 2012 / 8:42 am

      I really like the idea of incorporating tasks for parents too!! I’m not sure I’d do very well, but it helps give them the feeling of having more responsibility and of the whole thing being fairer. I reckon I’d have liked that as a child 🙂

      I’m very impressed that they are so young, especially 3, and yet came up with such mature suggestions. How easy is it do you think for your 3 year old to remember the chart and be ‘nice’ with a sticker in mind? I’m thinking of 3 year olds I’ve known and when they get upset, they are not easy to reason with!

  23. 20 November, 2012 / 2:40 pm

    I have tried so many different types of charts and for different kinds of rewards! Children are motivated by different things so I think it needs to be tailored to the child. Not too many tasks to be achieved firstly. Secondly, I do think that their should be a consequence to negative behaviour and this needs to be spelled out at the bottom of the chart. If all the ticks are achieved no the board then a treat could be the reward instead of money (if that’s not a motivator). My children are older now so they get a basic amount of pocket money but need to do set chores to get it – if they do extras they get 50p more (or particularly good behaviour) and if it’s bad then 50p less 🙁 Hope that helps.

    • 22 November, 2012 / 8:45 am

      It’s a good point about the treat versus money think. I’ve definitely noticed with my children that as they’ve got older they are more interested in cash! How old are your children now? When did they start getting regular pocket money?

  24. 20 November, 2012 / 2:52 pm

    I think rewarding positive behaviour works better than punishing bad behaviour. In a way they get pucnished for a lack of good behaviour rather than active bad behaviour, sometimes just that behaviour is there just to get a reaction, so not getting one works best in my experience. Once they haven’t got a reaction from you they work on other ways to get one, which they soon learn is a positive reaction from good behaviour.

    I find that doing daily rewards rather than weekly works better. When they are younger, using desert, 10 minutes later bed time, bedtime treat, or anything else that they would really want, can help. Receiving the reward that day rather than having to wait til the end of the week can give them more motivation. You can then have a system that depending on how many days they got a full list of ticks on their chart, depends on how much pocket money they get – ie, 20p per day, and maybe a bonus if they have a full week.

    Give them a chart that they can put a sticker on so they feel the achievement when they get a ‘tick’ rather than just seeing it on there. The excitement of getting to chose a sticker, and placing it on the chart can sometimes work as enough of a motivation.

    When the children get older it can get even tricker, a friend of mine uses the wifi password as a reward for chores. Each day, if her children want the wifi password they have to have completed the small list of chores first. My neighbour gives a base rate pocket money of £2 a week to her 11 yo son, and any extra that he wants he has to earn by doing chores.

    • 22 November, 2012 / 8:49 am

      Hahaha! I love the idea of making kids do chores in return for the wifi password! I think Bee would go nuts if I tried to impose that here 🙂 Plus it would mean changing it every day and I’d be sure to get in a muddle…

      I think you’re right though about smaller children needing more instant gratification – a whole week is quite a long time to wait when you’re small.

    • SingleMumExtraordinare
      27 November, 2012 / 5:20 am

      How many kids do you have and what ages?

      • 27 November, 2012 / 8:21 am

        They are 10 and 17. How about you?

  25. 20 November, 2012 / 7:53 pm

    Hey there! I’m not a mum, but a special ed teacher so I have loads of experience with rewards and sanctions.

    1 You need to make the reward achievable. I think your 10 things a day for a week is too big for Belle at this point.

    2 You can’t take things away once earned. Does your employer go into your bank acct and take away £15 every time you are late to work or have a bad idea in a meeting? Same thing on the kid scale.

    3 You need to find the motivator for the child, each child is different. Some like stickers, some like money to save and get a larger item, some like to go somewhere and spend time with mum.

    4 Get YOUR mum on board. She may bring up all the stuff you did to her and laugh.

    • 22 November, 2012 / 8:51 am

      Yep, you’re totally right. Reading through all these comments has been brilliant as I can see now that my approach with Belle was rubbish!! Too many chores, not exciting enough, not enough flexibility etc etc

      For a ten year old, how many things do you think it is reasonable to expect them to acheive in one day?

  26. 20 November, 2012 / 8:41 pm

    In my former life, as in pre-motherhood, I was a secondary school teacher and so even though I didn’t exactly use reward charts in the way that you would with young children, I definitely think some of the principles are the same.
    Firstly, the purpose of the reward chart is to clearly illustrate to the child and to the other members of the family that they are doing a good job. They are behaving in the way in which you would expect any other child to behave and in the way you should model for them. In this case the ‘tasks’ need to be simple, realistic and every day tasks, perhaps with the addition of one or two ‘per week’ type tasks like changing the bed sheets or brushing the dog (obviously dependent on the age of the child).
    Secondly, the outcome of the reward chart for the child shouldn’t be a ‘reward’ as such or it just becomes a bribery type thing. “You brush your teeth tonight and i’ll give you a pound tomorrow to buy sweets with”. Useless.
    The outcome of accumulating rewards for the child should be praise, a reinforcement that the child is doing something right, and perhaps additional ‘family responsibility’ as a once per week/fortnight/month reward such as allowing the child to choose what the family eats for tea one night or letting them choose what film the family watches together, make them feel a bit more grown up.
    The chart itself and the rules around it need to be simple. I would suggest perhaps having 3 daily tasks that the child needs to complete, such as making the bed in the morning, brushing their teeth before bed and folding their clothes up. Then have a ‘bank’ of other tasks that need to be completed throughout the week and the child gets to choose one extra task per day. You could perhaps have a bank or 15 or so tasks and the parent chooses 7 of these each week to change it up for the child. This gives the parent control over the tasks expected of the child, but allows the child the independence and the personal responsibility to choose their own task each day.
    What if the tasks arent completed? Should there be a punishment? Personally I would say no. A child shouldn’t be ‘trained’ like a pet to be good, but they should be made aware that doing good brings you good. Kids aren’t stupid, they might take advantage of the system and suss out that if they dont brush their teeth then nothing will happen to them, but this is why being consistent is KEY here, you have to stick with it. Have high expectations of children and they will feel more mature and aim to please you.
    That was an epic comment, I hope it helps!

    • 22 November, 2012 / 8:55 am

      Epic yes, but brilliant, thank you Catherine!

      It’s a really lovely idea about the rewards being a family responsibility rather than a treat or cash. I know Belle would love to be in charge of the remote control for an evening (although I’m not sure I could deal with back to back Scooby Doo). I really like the idea that they earn that sort of privelege though, rather than it all being about earning ‘stuff’.

      I think the bank of tasks is a really nice addition too, and again gives the child more control and responsibility. I know there are some days where I just really don’t want to do a particular thing that on normal days wouldn’t feel like a chore at all.

      Do you think there comes an age when this sort of approach stops working? When you were a teacher, how did you incorporate these principles with older children?

      • 25 November, 2012 / 8:33 pm

        No I don’t think this method ever stops working. Whether you’re a teacher, a parent or an older sibling, simply being older means that you can do more stuff anf have more freedom, therefore the child/pupil will always want to be more like you. Its all about modelling behaviours and making the reward a little glimpse of being grown up! I didn’t use this approach with all children, only those who were troublesome and needed some guidance from me. I found that offering the most difficult pupils an opportunity to do something non-school related, even if only for a couple of minutes, kept them on task all day. For example, don’t swear at anybody all day and i’ll let you choose a song that i’ll play on youtube at the end of the lesson. Anything that you aren’t normally allowed to do, so long as it isn’t something ‘taboo’ is an excellent reward. For example, fold your clothes up every night for a week and i’ll let you stay up late and watch X Factor with mummy. Works a treat.

        • 27 November, 2012 / 8:23 am

          Belle’s teacher is doing something similar with their maths assessments at the moment. He has picked out a few of them, Belle included, and given them the option to ‘gamble’ on their results – if they get 100% on at least one of the tests they get to set the lesson on Friday afternoon!

  27. 21 November, 2012 / 10:29 pm

    It would be good if it was sort of magnetic rather than stickers, and maybe, just getting carried away as we need to do something for my 3 year old, they’ve also got the days of the week on- so brushing teeth, tidying up, sharing, brushing hair. And then it could also help them choose the magnet with the right day on. And then if they get all their magnets, or whatever they could get a treat. I think at the moment my 3yo would be just as happy getting to select her magnets and put them on the chart and show them off to visitors.

    • 22 November, 2012 / 8:58 am

      I totally agree – at three, the simple act of getting to put a sticker or a magnet on a chart and show it off (again and again!) to visitors is probably reward enough! At three, does your daughter understand the principle behind it and do you think she can modify her behaviour with the chart in mind, even when she’s really tired or grumpy? I think back to Belle at three and she would sometimes just get into a mood where she just couldn’t think about ANYTHING other than NOT wanting to clean her teeth/go to bed/whatever it was at the time 🙂

  28. 23 November, 2012 / 10:38 am

    Hi there
    We have tried loads of reward charts, in the end they all end up in the bin! This is mainly down to me managing the system effectively. What about giving the parent a column which gives a star for sticking to/remebering to do the reward chart each day. That way we are sharing the reward experience!

    • 27 November, 2012 / 8:24 am

      Great idea Amanda! Part of the reason mine always fail is me just forgetting! Not setting a very good example…

  29. 23 November, 2012 / 2:21 pm

    I have to be honest, and say that we have never used any reward charts with isabelle as we didn’t need them. We are very lucky, she has always been suhc a good girl…until she has started school, and as she has refused to be doing her homework, we have started awarding a silver star for her effort, after she collect 10 silver stars, she can get a small present, and after getting 30 silver stars, she can choose a big present for a great work. thsi is all only about homework, and have to say that since we have strated it, she has improved at school so much and loves doing her homework….not sure if this is right though… 😉

    • 27 November, 2012 / 8:24 am

      Well if it works it sounds good to me!

  30. 23 November, 2012 / 2:33 pm

    We find that our boys who are 5 and 3 work very well with a reward chart. We use custom ones so we can fill in what is required for that week, somethings stay the same but some change. They have 5 things for each day and if they get a stick on each one that day they get a sticker. They can also earn back ones they miss and if they get a full house they get pocket money of £1.

    • 27 November, 2012 / 8:25 am

      Three is quite young, so I’m really impressed he does so well – what sort of things do you have as tasks each day?

  31. SingleMumExtraordinare
    27 November, 2012 / 5:16 am

    If you’re having this much trouble now, God help you when you have a teen. Also, if you don’t have kids and you’re tweeting or blogging about this, you should probably get a real life. Being a mum is amazing, but the little fantasy isn’t reality.

    • 27 November, 2012 / 7:59 am

      I have two daughters, 17 and 10. It would be a little bit weird to be writing this blog if I didn’t have any!

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