Reward charts are a cornerstone of "POSITIVE PARENTING". Reward charts are all about
ANY positive behaviour showed by your child. All "good" behaviour should be acknowledged and praised so as to reinforce it. And this kind of all-purpose reward chart is great for very young kids.
But as they grow older and start to understand what is "good" behaviour and what is "expected" of them, reward charts can be used effectively to promote one particular behaviour or overcome one specific challenge. For example, Ravi is now 5 years old, and bedtime is a real struggle. Every night his mum is exhausted by the drama around bedtime. Ravi's parents tried a reward chart system. Ravi's bedtime is 7.00 pm he is expected to be done with dinner and in bed by 7.00 pm.
Ravi's Week 1 goal was to get to bed by 7.00 pm with or without help but without fuss every day for 5 days. Every day if he accomplished this, he would get a star. At the end of 5 days, he got an extra hour of playtime with his cousins on Saturday. Ravi's mother is far less stressed now.
A few things to remember when using reward charts:
1- When starting out, make the reward achievable. You can build on the task at hand / difficulty level / number of days required as you go along and are able to gauge the success of the chart. But also make the expected behavior very clear. If Ravi has to brush his teeth before getting into bed, that needsv to be made clear from the beginning.
2- Always remember the age and maturity level of your child. Very young children are sometimes unable to link a specific behaviour to a reward.
3- Revisit the chart and reinforce the behaviour repeatedly. For example, Ravi's parents have stuck the chart on the fridge at a height where Ravi can also see it. Every so often they point that Ravi has completed 4 days and in just one more day, and tell him, he's doing so well.
4- Involve the child (if possible) in the reward negotiation. This makes the child feel empowered and take ownership for his/her own actions and the consequences. For examples Ravi was given a choice between hanging out more with his cousins on Saturday or getting an extra book to read before bedtime.
5- Give your sticker / or add to the chart immediately. Also make the reward as immediate as possible especially for younger kids. Making them wait too long, makes them lose interest.
6- Stay positive. There will be days when your child doesn't make it. Don't make a big deal out of it- stay positive and move on.
7- Once the required behavior has been achieved move on from the particular chart.
Opponents of reward charts point out that charts encourage the concept of external motivation and are akin to bribing. I think if used properly reward charts are more incentivising than bribing and can help cultivate good habits in a positive manner. One of the big advantages is that if you find something isn't working, you can adjust it and see what does work for your child.
Reward charts can be found as printables which you can post in an easily accessible area. Or you can go hi-tech and go for an app.
You can find more about reward charts here;