Seven top tips for using a reward chart

A reward chart is a great tool for encouraging and praising the positive behaviour of your child.

They are a simple way to help your child to learn new skills, like following instructions. They can also tackle more challenging behaviours, such as refusing to share.

a young child plays with pastel-coloured wooden blocks
  1. Be specific about the behaviours and tasks. Make sure that your child understands the appropriate behaviour. “Put your shoes away after school” is more clear than “be more tidy.” If the behaviours and tasks are not specific, your child is unlikely to be successful.
  2. Be specific about the rewards. Make sure both you and your child agree to the rewards. It’s okay to offer a choice of rewards, too. For example, ask your child which type of sticker they would like. Or give them the choice of extra play time or story time.
  3. Make sure that the steps to success are small. An impossible task is not a rewarding one. But don’t make it too easy, either. Think about a task or behaviour which is a positive step up from your child’s current behaviour.
  4. Don’t have too many tasks or behaviours. You should choose two or three at a time for your child to focus on. You can always introduce more later.
  5. Focus on positive behaviours. It is better to say, “tidy up after playing with toys,” than “don’t leave a mess.” Turn the negative into a positive – it’s the positive behaviour that you want to reward.
  6. Reward everyday achievements. This helps to keep your child engaged. These can include washing their hands before dinner or packing away a game before getting out another.
  7. Don’t break the bank. Rewards don’t have to be expensive toys or day trips. They can be free! For example, an extra bedtime story or 15 more minutes of bathtime.

Read our article on how to use a reward chart for more advice from our parenting coaches.

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