What is a Reward Chart?

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  • Written By: Margo Upson
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 13 March 2020
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A reward chart is an enticement tool used for mostly for children. When a child performs the desired behavior, it gets marked off on their chart. After enough checks, the child receives a reward.

Reward charts are based on the idea of behavioral modification. After enough times completing a task, the task will become a habit. For example, a mother wants her son to learn to make his bed every morning. They discuss the chart, decide on a reward after a set number of stickers are placed on the board, and the chart is hung someplace easily seen by both of them. Now, every morning the son makes his bed, and has his mom check. She places a sticker on his chart. After two weeks, they go out for a small ice cream cone.

A reward chart can be used for all varieties of behaviors. A common use is to encourage children to perform daily chores. Another use is for rewarding good behavior. This could be staying with their parents at a store, cleaning up their toys without being asked, or sharing nicely with a sibling. Charts for rewarding behavior don’t need to have any singular behavior in mind. When a parent sees the child doing something exceptionally good, they can put another mark on the child’s chart.


Toddlers who are being potty trained can also benefit from a reward chart. For potty training, small steps should be taken. Start a child off with charting the times he or she successfully uses the potty. Then move on to days dry, nights dry, and so forth. A great reward for this accomplishment is a package of “big kid” underwear.

Older children can benefit from reward charts as well. Marking off completed homework assignments can encourage a child to get into the habit of doing their work. Charts can also be used for encouraging high quiz scores. These incentive charts can help a student to learn better study habits.

When using a reward chart, plan on focusing on each behavior for four to six weeks before moving on to something else. At that time, most children should have adopted the new habit. Even if they haven’t, they should at least know what is expected of them. The rewards used should fit the behavior. A small reward, such as going to the park, extra one-on-one time with a parent, or a special arts and crafts project are great motivators for young children. A larger accomplishment, such as being completely diaper trained, may deserve a bigger treat, such as a small lunch at a diner, or a trip to the local zoo.

Reward charts are a great tool to use when trying to modify a child’s behavior. They reinforce positive behavior instead of punishing a negative behavior. Children of any age can benefit from the use of a reward chart.


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Post 1

When I was a child, my mother was big on the idea of eating our veggies. Of course, my sister and I weren't keen on her idea. My mother started a chart for us. Every night that we ate all of our vegetables, we got a star. If we got five stars in a row, we got to go to Dairy Queen and get an ice cream cone.

It probably sounds silly but it's a fond memory that I have.

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