Lots of parents on RoosterMoney choose to use a reward or star chart with their families to manage both jobs around the house and also as a stepping stone to giving pocket money. We asked Jo Middleton, and readers of her parenting blog Slummy Single Mummy, What makes the perfect reward chart? Below is a summary of the useful feedback her post received from parents and some more tips on using reward charts.
You don’t need to give a big incentive to make a reward chart work
We have found that children respond to reward charts differently and when it comes to incentives, this will vary by age and your child’s personality.
According to Lauren of ‘Spud and Spike’ “each child is different and money might work for some and treats might work for others – we also have to make sure that if Spud does something good no matter how small that we reward him for it”.
While some parents on RoosterMoney convert stars directly to pocket money using a conversion rate, others stipulate all stars available for a week must be achieved before the children get their money. This can be a great way to avoid issues over getting some but not all of the jobs done!
What age should you start using a reward chart?
This completely depends on your child. This could be when they become interested in wanting to help around the house in return for a treat, when they need some positive reinforcement learning to do something or when you feel that giving them a target will help them behave.
Netmums believe reward charts can be a practical tool for parents and they can be introduced “if you’ve entered that tricky phase when your child develops an assertive streak and seems to do the exact opposite of what you’d like!”
The Naughty Seat say “a good rule of thumb is reward charts should work for children aged between 3 and 8.” They note also that reward charts should be introduced when “the child is capable of tackling the issue you want to address and equally whether they want to tackle it”.
On RoosterMoney we have found that many parents use rewards charts as a stepping stone to giving more regular pocket money, often transitioning by giving a small amount of regular pocket money, supported by additional chores and tasks they must complete to help them understand that pocket money needs to be earned.
Make their goals manageable. Fewer completed is better than many missed.
If you have a specific issue you want your child to focus on then a reward chart can be very powerful at helping them focus on overcoming this. You can also reward for many things such as completing tasks to help the family.
A top tip is not to try and give them too many goals. Emma of they grow so quick, notes that keeping things simple can be the best approach as too many goals will overwhelm younger children. Geek Mummy and her 5 year old “had best success with reward charts that are focussed on just a single activity.”
Be careful what defines a ‘reward’ worthy action
One thing all parents have told us is that you must be very clear what is worth a ‘reward’ and what is expected of them as a member of the family. Reward for everything and you risk your children expecting something for anything they do.
Should reward charts include bad behaviour?
According to Super Nanny you should “award stickers for good behavior… when your child misbehaves remove a sticker from the chart.” Many parents take this approach and some believe that you should not show bad marks on a reward chart, as children not getting a sticker or treat is punishment enough.
Although views differ on how to display bad behavior, there is a strong consensus that reward charts should make clear to children what constitutes good and bad behavior. Sammie Hodges of OneBlueOnePink likes to “write on the chart a suggestion for how they could improve or a reminder of what they need to do”. Other parents who use RoosterMoney have told us that they use a system of gold stars and black marks.
One tip to bear in mind is that in the same way as a parent can manage pocket money, children will understand the importance of good behavior when associating it with positive outcomes and rewards.
Make your children proud of their chart!
Kids love that sense of achievement when they get their latest masterpiece on the fridge. In the same way you can decorate reward charts with little pictures and stickers, it should be something the child is proud of. Encourage them to take part in making one – something lots of parents do with our reward chart by adding their own tasks and coloring it in.
It’s also worth mixing up the charts that you use, whether that’s a homemade reward chart or simply printing out different ones. Visualising the rewards and putting the chart in a prominent position like the kitchen fridge is also a great way to remind them of their progress.
Make it a journey
For the younger ones, making a chart an adventure or challenge that the kids can relate to will keep things interesting and fun whilst giving a sense of progression. If your son loves trains then the reward chart could be based around a train track. If your daughter loves Disney then climbing a princess castle with rewards could be great fun. This is particularly effective when focusing on one goal.
“A starry night chart where they get stars to make the night brighter, or flowers to go in a garden.” was suggested by the blog Live Otherwise and Fi from Child Care is Fun suggested “A rocket chart… When they reach the moon there is a big reward”.
However you do it, keep it fun!
The best tip we can give you is like everything we try and do at RoosterMoney – keep it fun for you and your family! Ultimately, you want the children to be excited about using their reward chart, as it will motivate them to reach their goals. One parent we spoke to even suggested creating one for mum and dad too!
Go to our free printable reward chart.