I am a bit OCD and really thrive on systems, plans, routines, etc. Towards that end, I LOVE charts. During different phases of my kids’ lives, as they are learning new skills and subsequently challenging us as parents in new ways, I have found that a rewards chart can be especially helpful. I have a different chart up on the blog already, that you can check out here: Weekly Behavior Chart (The actual chart is found at the bottom of the post.)
However, with different kids and different phases of life, you may need to modify the type of chart you use. While the above chart is a little more structured, the chart I have for you today might allow a more sensitive child to feel good about their day. Typically, most charts, like the one above, use a daily points system. If you do this task on this day, you can put a sticker in this box. However, there would be days where Hannah wouldn’t earn a sticker for a category, and would feel horrible. The daily chart made her very aware of her shortcomings.
Towards that end, the chart I have for you today, allows you to be a bit more free-form with your rewards. At the top of the chart, I created simple pictures of each of the tasks Hannah was working on. (Examples- Eat my food, stay dry all day, Love my brother, etc.) I made sure not to line the pictures up with the sticker boxes. At the end of each day, we would go over to the chart (hung in a place that the child see and/or passes by several times each day) and talk about each thing she was working on. We would decide if she earned the sticker for that skill. Then, she could choose a sticker to put in ANY empty box on the chart. On the more structured chart, she would be painfully aware of a day with only one sticker, as she would see all of the blank spots for the day. However, with this chart, your child can still feel successful for conquering one skill, as the stickers are placed at random, and not constricted by time. You can also be more liberal this way. If your child goes out of their way for example to love their sibling in two different ways, you could allow them two stickers, instead of the one. You could reward “eat my food” three times, instead of one, also allowing them more chances to be successful.
At the bottom of the chart, I wrote: I am trying to earn: , and then we talked about a small prize/trip/outing she would earn when she filled the whole chart. (I liked this method better as well, because it could sometimes take WEEKS to fill the other chart, especially if she had a bad day.) Some prize ideas are things like a small toy (don’t go crazy..you don’t want to set yourself up to have your child behave only when a prize is offered), a trip to the ice cream store, a ride on the merry-go-round at the mall, etc. When your child has mastered the skills on the chart, either change the skills, or stop using it. This is supposed to be a motivator, not an easy way for your child to earn toys and ice cream.
Try it out and see if it works for you! This particular chart is one I did with Hannah right around age 3. Let me know if it works for you! You can find the chart here: Happy Choices Chart