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How to use a reward chart

Setting up a reward chart system is simple, but there are a few rules that you may find helpful to follow to get the best out of these with your children. It really can work when it is well planned and will mean so much more than just giving a few stars to a child who has been good. Something this works, but by giving a little bit more and dealing with more than one specific type of behaviour, you can see much greater benefits overall.

Reward charts should be interesting, bright, colourful and engaging for your child. Getting stickers is fun in the first instance, but can become a bit dull over time. Giving mini rewards for 5 stars in a row helps keep kids motivated and focused on reaching the end goal for the main reward. Changing your reward chart for a new design, or using a new set of stickers add a bit of variety, especially sparkly glitzy stickers for extra special good days. Allow your child to choose their sticker and place it on their reward chart themselves.

You should consider what behaviour is it that your would like to change in your child. For example, getting dressed in the morning, eating their dinner at the table or going to bed on time. For this behaviour you should set up a routine, and regular pattern of events that can be followed each day. Before engaging in the routine, make it clear to your child that in 10 minutes time, it will be time for... This allows you child to finish their games and start to prepare themselves for the routine. It may be helpful to explain what this means, ie. when the big hand on the clock gets to the number 3. You should also make it clear that if your child is good and does as you are asking, that they will receive a reward in the form of a sticker on their chart. If they are almost at the end of a row, or the whole chart, this will provide them with extra encouragement.

The routine you are asking of your child may have several steps, for example brushing teeth, putting pyjamas on, brushing hair then going to bed. Your expectation is that your child should understand each element of the routine, and do these without the tantrums. It can help to break down each element and reward a sticker for each part. Once your child is more receptive to the routine, it may be worth amalgamating the tasks into a single reward, allowing you to focus on other areas of behaviour or other routines.

So give it a go, start small, make each task achievable so your child can see their progress. Remember a reward doesn't always have to be a present. Sometimes a trip to the park, or taking the kids swimming is more fun!

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