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Do reward charts work?

Reward Charts Case Study

Can reward charts actually improve your childs behaviour? We asked three families to test run our reward charts to see what impact they had on their childrens behaviours.

Case Study 1 - The Harrison's - Time for bed.

The Harrison family have a 3 year old daughter who is relatively well behaved, she has the odd tantrum and sulk but is generally well mannered. She understands the concept of sharing toys with friends, she will sit and eat at the table at dinner time and asks to leave when she is finished. She rarely hits out or displays any signs of violent behaviour and is well behaved in the company of strangers.

So why does she need a reward chart?

Bed time. The one thing the Harrison family really struggle with is getting their daughter to go to sleep at a reasonable time. Currently, it is usually between 10.30 and 11pm before she finally falls asleep. There is now little time left for mum and dad to spend any time together, or catch up on other important jobs before they need to get to bed themselves.

So how can a reward chart help?

The Harrisons wanted a reward chart which would allow them to reward her and track her behaviour over each day of the week. The chose our Princess reward chart  for this. They realised that it wasn't just about getting her to go to bed at a reasonable hour, but ensuring all the prerequisite tasks for the evening were completed in a timely manner. They split the reward chart into the following tasks Eating Dinner, Having a Bath, Brushing Teeth & Combing Hair, Reading a Book in Bed, Lights out and fall asleep.

By having a set path, this allowed their daughter to see that she was achieving her goals as the night progressed. Previously, she would use stalling tactics by saying she didn't want a bath, then when they got her in, she decided that she did not want to get out. Whilst this was never an issue with regards to naughty behaviour, it was going against the will of her parents and ultimately delaying the time at which they could put her to bed.

The Harrisons set specific times when she needed to have completed the task by. Dinner by 6.30, Bath by 7, Hair & Teeth by 7.30, Book by 8pm and then fall asleep.

Each time she achieved her goal, she received a star for her chart. If she missed her goal, they simply left it blank and ignored the matter - not to dwell on failure and to simply too to achieve the next one on the list.

For each day that she achieved all her stars, she got a reward. This reward was chosen by her each time, and varied from a trip tot he park, to a childrens magazine from the shops, or something yummy for pudding.

The Harrisons spent some time with their daughter explaining to her simply the tasks she had, and what she would get if she achieved them. They would encourage her through the whole processes, reminding her of what she needs to do.

At first, their daughter was very enthusiastic and the first few days passed with a star for each task. Additional hurdles started to crop up as events meant that their routine could not always be stuck to. This didn't deter them, and where possible they still tried to continue, always with the emphasis of postive reward and not to dwell on negativity.

Some days, she missed her targets completely, and as such she did not receive her reward. The Harrisons said it was sometimes difficult to stick to the original rules and not to bend them as she had shown good behaviour in other areas.

As time progressed, the new routine began to sink in. They now have good days and bad days, and occassionally let the routine slip (usually at weekends) but overall they have had some good success.

Their daughter now understand her routine and asks when it is time to do the next step. As she grows up and becomes more independant, she is able to achieve some of these tasks on her own. Whilst her bed time was initially set for 8pm, this has been pushed back to 8.30, a more realistic target for their family - they made the valid point that sometimes it is harder to fight trying to put a child to sleep who is not tired, than to agree with them that they can have an extra half hour, providing they stick to the rules.

The Harrisons are now at the stage where the reward chart has served its current purpose and are amending the taks to reflect getting up in the morning instead!

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