Using behavior reward charts can be a helpful tool to increase your child’s motivation to engage in particular behavior. Here are some tips for using behavior reward charts:

1. Begin with one specific behavior you want to see your child do more frequently.

For example, although you may want your child to engage in many behaviors more frequently (eat more vegetables, clean their room, and do their homework), it may not be motivating for the child to receive rewards for many behaviors at once. Start with the most important behavior you want your child to do more frequently. Let’s say it’s most important for you want your child to eat more vegetables.

Example target behavior: Eat more vegetables


2. Frame the behavior as what the child should do instead of what they should not do.

Instead of saying “don’t eat junk food,” it is clearer to say “eat more vegetables.” It is helpful for children to know exactly what they have to do to earn their reward.


3. Decide how often/how much the child should do the target behavior in order for them to earn the reward.

For example, you may decide that they need to eat one vegetable per day for 3 days in a row to earn the prize. Or – maybe they need to eat 3 vegetables per day for a week. Make sure to come up with a realistic goal for the child when first using a behavior reward chart.

Example target behavior: Eat one vegetable per day for 3 days in a row.


4. Identify how you want to set up the behavior reward chart.

Now that you know what the specific target behavior is, it’s time to decide what specific type of reward system you want to use with your child. For example, do you want your child to be able to earn stickers or points for each time they engage in the target behavior.

Example: My child will earn one sticker for each time they eat a vegetable. If they earn 3 stickers (one for each day), they will earn the reward.


5. Identify a reward for your child that would motivate them to engage in the behavior.

Talk with your child to collaboratively identify a reward that would motivate them to eat more vegetables. Examples of potential rewards could include a toy prize, money, or a special outing. It is up to you to decide what specific prize your child earns.

Example target behavior and reward: A child would receive a small toy prize if they eat one vegetable per day for 3 days in a row.


6. Be very specific in communicating to the child exactly what they have to do in order to earn the prize.

Communicate exactly what you expect your child should do (explain the target behavior, how frequently/how much they should do it) so they understand exactly what they need to do to earn the prize. Communicate that they will be earning stickers or points toward their reward.


7. Create the behavior reward chart.

Be creative! Use a colorful poster board and have your child help you decorate it. Typically, each day of the week is included in the top row and the target behavior should be in a column on the left.  Make sure to have everything you need including stickers, markers, and any decorations that would make it fun for your child.


8. Put the behavior reward chart in a visible location.

It can be helpful and motivating to put the behavior reward chart in a highly visible location (the refrigerator) to remind the child to do the target behavior.


9. Use the behavior reward chart!

Now that you have everything in place it’s time to use the chart! Make sure to be consistent as possible with using the chart. Encourage your child to put the stickers on the chart or draw the points themselves. Try to make it as engaging and fun as possible.


10. Add or change target behaviors/rewards as needed.

Once the child is engaging in the first target behavior successfully, feel free to add another one to the chart. However, it’s best to not have more than 3 target behaviors on the chart at one time. Too many target behaviors can be confusing and not as motivating for the child. If you notice the child is not as motivated by a reward, feel free to change the reward as needed.

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