Why I Love Reward Charts for Kids!

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Reward Charts for Kids

My little princess has always been a bit…let’s say ambitious.  She loves to win at CandyLand, she loves to be the line leader at school, she loves to “teach” her little brother how to “correctly” play with toys, and she loves to keep us all in check at home.

For these reasons, reward charts work fantastic for her.  And, we have used reward charts for LOTS of things – potty training, learning to contribute to household chores, learning to read, learning to try new foods…you name it, you can make a chart for it.

I think that reward charts are a wonderful way to help your child stay focused, reach their goal(s) and nurture positive reinforcement.

Where to Find Reward Charts

I’ve seen them done LOTS of different ways.  From super cute, adorable handmade charts with artwork, to store bought magnetic charts, to simple handwritten ones on construction paper.  You can buy them at almost any teaching store…for us, the closest is Lakeshore Learning.  My latest creation was a cute reward chart from the “Dollar Spot” at Target.

How to Make a Reward Chart 

1.  If you choose to make one, start by picking your format.  I usually start with construction paper, markers and favorite stickers.

2.  Decide about the length of goal-setting for your little one.  If you’re using it for potty-training, then you’ll need to make one that fits within those parameters (for example, dry and clean milestones for a certain number of days).  If you’re using it to incorporate chores or try new foods, decide if you want to set daily, weekly or monthly goals.

3.  Stock up on small, itty bitty stickers – I personally use stickers, but you could also use crayons or markers to make check marks, shapes, etc.

4.  Once I figure out how I want to structure the chart, then I’ll decorate it with my little girl’s favorite stickers to snazz it up a bit.

Where to Post Them

Kiddos are all about instant gratification.  This means that when your little one earns a sticker, you need to make sure to let them put a sticker on their chart immediately (if possible).  I’ve found that the concept of a reward chart loses its luster when my munchkin adds a sticker hours after she’s earned it.  It just doesn’t mean the same to her.

So post them where they’re easy to see, easy to reach and convenient for you and your child. I keep the stickers where my daughter can easily reach them too.

Earning Their Reward

So you may be wondering what kind of reward is appropriate.  Honestly, I think it depends on the kiddo.  I’ve done simple treats like coloring books or little trinkets.  I’ve done big rewards like the Dora the Explorer swimming bath time mermaid doll.  It depends on the length of your child’s goal and determining what’s important to them.

I’ve heard of some of my friends rewarding small goals with a trip to the “treasure chest,” filled with Dollar Tree goodies.  Or earning tokens instead of stickers, having the child “save their tokens,” then having them redeem the tokens for a certain token-appropriate treat (for example, five tokens = a new book or 30 tokens = a new doll).

For my daughter, I’ve found that talking about her reward, what she has to do to earn it, AND letting her go to the store with me to buy it is the best way to ensure her success.

We always buy the toy first…I let her hold it in the store…then when we get home, she helps me find a “home” for it until she earns it.  That way she’s really invested in earning her treat.

You can do it whatever way you’re comfortable with and whatever works for you and your child – the possibilities are endless.

Last But Not Least…

Consistency is the name of the game.  Just like most things in parenting, I’ve found that consistency is just about the only way this type of positive reinforcement works.

Before you begin, talk to your child about what they need to do to earn their stickers, check marks, tokens, etc.  Then only give it to them when they’ve completed their task.  If you give in to an early reward, or give in to stickers without the child completing their goal that you both agreed upon, you’ve lost your street cred.

If your kiddo is struggling, gently remind them how proud you are of them, how hard they’re working, and how close they are to accomplishing their goal.  Remind them we all have tough days, even mamas.

Oh, and a quick note…I make it a point to never take away a sticker.  If she is behaving naughty over something else, I will absolutely will correct her and deal with the infraction. But if my little girl has earned a sticker, I let her keep the sticker on the chart for a job well done on her already completed task.

And, when they earn a sticker or token, verbally praise, praise, praise!  Reward charts are all about positive reinforcement and helping your munchkin stay focused on reaching a goal or milestone.  You want them to feel good about themselves…and who better to do that, than you?!

What works best for helping your children reach an important goal or milestone?  Do you use reward charts?  Or use other methods?  Let’s share ideas…please feel free to comment below!

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