Reward Chart Tips

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Reward charts can be helpful because they increase awareness and communication about behavioral expectations. They also increase structure, consistency & accountability—all of which are helpful for struggling kids. Reward charts also clarify parental authority and celebrate/reward effort and success. Keep in mind the following tips as you begin this process with your child.

  • Limit the number of goals to 4.
  • Be as specific as possible about which behaviors you want to change.
  • Focus goals on skill areas that improve behavior, for example: good communication, flexibility, respect, problem solving etc.
  • Have one of the goals be fairly easy to succeed on.
  • Have one goal be “talk about feelings”. This is an essential skill and will help your child reflect on challenging situations.
  • Go for success in the first week. After the child gets a taste of the reward(s) and is feeling confident and invested in the system—begin to raise your expectations. In other words, lower the bar at first!
  • Adjust rewards if they’re not motivating behavior change after a few weeks.
  • Don’t allow access to the rewards at other times.
  • Review chart daily with both parents present. Have the child self-evaluate and then parents weigh-in whether the star/sticker etc. was earned. Praise the child for meeting their goals and let them know which goal(s) need more effort.
  • Once a goal is consistently met, take if off the chart and put it on an “All Stars” list, and choose another goal to put in that slot.
Some commonly used goals you may want to consider: Be Flexible, Respectful words, No yelling, Kind deeds, Get ready for school/bed, Good listening, Eye contact, Share with others, Do calm down breaks, Play by yourself for 20 minutes, Use fidgets/body breaks, Eat your dinner/Try new foods, Have a good day at school, Do homework.


For much more information on reward charts, see Ch.8 in Noah’s book, Better Behavior: Helping Kids Create Change and Improve Relationships.