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6 Steps to a Successful Reward Plan

Wouldn’t it be great if kids came with manuals? As we all know, they don’t. That minor oversight on the part of Mother Nature has sent parents scurrying on a never-ending search for answers to kid behavior challenges. Establishing a great reward plan can help your child develop great habits with many different behaviors.

Benefits of a Reward Plan

It’s human nature to work for a reward. But implementing a consistent and positive reward plan and finding the right reward is the key to building great habits in children.

  • Enhance your child’s self esteem
  • Teach kids to exercise independence
  • Make your interactions with your child more enjoyable
  • Allow your child to see his/her progress toward a goal

Implementing a Successful Reward Plan

Before you initiate a reward plan, take a look at these six steps for success. Involve your child in every step of the process to ensure his participation.

  1. Identify the problem behavior(s). Work with your child on this one. Chances are you’ve spoken to your child time and time again about his behavior. Rather than lecturing, sit down with him and really talk about what’s unacceptable behavior and what you expect. With younger children, it’s best to work on just a few behaviors at a time. The older the child, the more behaviors you can work on at once.
  2. Select a fun behavior chart and print it out to hang on the wall. Again, with your child’s help, select a chart. Involving your child in the process will give him a sense of control and foster a sense of excitement for the process. As your child follows the expected behavior, place a check mark, or award points. To keep your child interested, change charts each week. You may also wish to “raise the bar” and make the behavior task a little more challenging. For example, if you’re working on brushing teeth, instead of giving a point for each day he brushes his teeth, offer 5 points if he brushes his teeth each day that week without being asked. If you or your child is computer oriented, consider keeping track of behavior points earned online.
  3. Select a reward. The reward should be commensurate with the behavior you’re working on. Save larger rewards for more challenging behaviors. Parents all too often make the mistake of believing that the best reward is a monetary one. In reality, many kids don’t need anything more than your time and attention. In fact, YOU (yep, you, the parent) are the best reward. What child doesn’t want to spend time with mom and/or dad doing something fun? Consider a reward such as baking cookies together, going to the movies as a family, picking a favorite dinner place, or starting a vegetable garden together, or camping in the back yard with dad. Family time really is a great incentive that both parents and kids can look forward to.
  4. Follow through. No behavior or reward plan will work unless you follow through. The behavior chart will really help you keep on task. For younger kids, put the charts on their wall, and for older kids, keep them in a notebook. Make sure that you stay on top of the plan and your child will follow suit.
  5. Remember the principles. There are a few basic rules that can help you make your plan a success. Don’t worry, they are simple to follow: a) Be Positive, b) Be Consistent, c) Be Realistic and d) Praise Often.
  6. Recognition. Imagine how great it will be when your child successfully completes his plan. Make reward day a big deal, offer plenty of praise, and provide a certificate of accomplishment.

Printable Resources for Reward Plans

Reward charts for kids help kid learn that they can have responsibilities and a bit of control over their environment. The charts communicate behaviors you want to see completed. Some parents let their child suggest rewards. This is an excellent idea as long as it is guided by the parents. Kids will be motivated to work toward rewards they really want. Start with small rewards, like a movie ticket, or extra TV time, or perhaps some extra allowance. Not all rewards have to be something that costs money. Some kids would be happy with a trip to the park or alone time with dad. Children's reward charts can be for many different activities. Here are some examples.

  • Behavior Charts - An easy and fun visual way to stay consistent with any behavior.
  • Chore Charts - List those chores and watch them get done.
  • Homework Charts - If your child struggles with homework, give him an incentive.
  • Morning and Evening Routine Charts - Eliminate those morning and evening battles with a good hygiene chart.
  • Points System - use our online points and reward system to coincide with whatever chart you prefer to use.

Behaviors to Improve with Reward Plans

A well planned reward program will work for just about any behavior. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking:

  • Saying please and thank you
  • Picking up clothes/toys
  • Brushing and flossing
  • Getting ready in morning/for school
  • Using tissues
  • Sharing and letting others go first
  • Temper tantrums
  • Fighting/Bullying
  • Fostering kindness with siblings
  • Eliminating thumb sucking or nail biting
  • Reducing whining and interruptions
  • Getting chores done

Successfully implementing reward plans will have benefits beyond getting your child to behave. You’ll find the interaction between you and your child about the behavior and reward plan will bring both closer, and your consistent follow through and recognition will build your child’s self esteem and put him on the path to developing great habits.